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Parents and donors: Apply for new tax credit for scholarships to private schools

Both parents and donors can take part in the new state tax credit approved by lawmakers this summer and set to begin on Jan. 2.

Senate Bill 1947 streamlined the state's education funding formula and created a new tax credit that allows individuals and corporations to donate to scholarship-granting organizations (SGO) and receive a 75 percent credit on their state income taxes in return. These organizations will then use this money to grant scholarships to qualifying students. More facts about the tax credit may be found here.

Donors should register with the Illinois Department of Revenue now in order to apply for the tax credit when it is first offered on Jan. 2. The application process requires a free online My Tax Illinois account. Completion of MyTax Illinois registration requires security authentication via mail, so applicants should allow 7-10 days to complete the setup of their MyTax Illinois account.

The Illinois Department of Revenue has also created a special website dedicated to the new program, which can be found here. The website lists the SGOs that have been approved, as well as the focus districts that are earmarked for priority during the first three months of student applications, from Jan. 1 to April 1. The SGO that is being used by most Catholic schools throughout the state is Empower Illinois, which has a help line for donors at 309-644-4524.

Parents are also encouraged to check out the information provided by each of the Catholic dioceses throughout the state: Belleville, Chicago, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield-in-Illinois.