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Thousands of Oklahoma private school tax credit applications approved

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OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Tax Commission has approved thousands of applications for new private school tax credits.

About 11,600 applications had been approved as of Wednesday, said Tax Commission spokesperson Emily Haxton.

All of those applications were from Oklahomans who were given priority status due to their household income, she said. Families with a household income of $150,000 or less that apply before Feb. 5 will receive priority consideration.

The amount approved is about $70 million in total tax credits, Haxton said. That’s nearly half of the $150 million lawmakers earmarked for the first year of the program.

The Tax Commission has received more than 30,000 applications for the tax credits approved by the GOP-led Oklahoma Legislature last year. About 45% are from priority applicants and 55% are from families earning more than $150,000 annually, Haxton said.

The refundable tax credits offer $5,000 to $7,500 per child to offset the cost of private school tuition and related educational expenses.

The amount of the tax credit depends on household earnings. There is no maximum income limit, but lower-income families receive a larger credit.

After applications are approved, the Tax Commission will send checks to the students’ schools where a parent or guardian can use it to pay tuition or collect it to cover other educational expenses.

The Tax Commission has not begun issuing those checks, Haxton said.

The tax credit program is likely to be a hot topic during the upcoming legislative session.

Several key lawmakers have expressed interest in tweaking the program to make it more user-friendly and open to more applicants. House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, previously said he thinks Republicans in his chamber would support accelerating a funding increase for the program.

For more information on the tax credits, visit parentalchoice.ok.gov.