- Responding to contact from school districts
- Wisconsin laws relating to home-based private educational programs (homeschooling)
- How a bill becomes a law in Wisconsin
- Contacting Your Representatives
- Are there tax breaks for homeschoolers? What about the educator expense deduction?
- Public dollars put Wisconsin homeschooling law at risk
In June 2016, the WPA Board approved the creation of a Legislative Watch Committee, headed by our Issues Director. The LWC keeps up-to-date on state and national issues that may affect Wisconsin homeschool law. They watch, analyze, and call on members when action is needed.
So, how does a bill become a law in this state? How can we all cultivate relationships with our representatives to make it easy and productive to call when we have a concern?
Click here to see how a Bill becomes a Law in Wisconsin.
For much more detailed information and specific examples click here.
It’s helpful to contact your representatives in the Assembly and the State Senate at the beginning of each legislative session. Here is what you want them to know:
- You are a homeschooler and their constituent.
- Homeschoolers in Wisconsin want to preserve our good homeschooling laws.
- Homeschoolers DO NOT want anything from the State (especially funding and/or to be treated like a special interest).
If a bill is introduced about homeschooling or preferential treatment for homeschoolers, they then have the background to know that homeschoolers do not want the laws to change and do not want favors.
Be willing to answer questions about homeschooling or refer them to the WPA website. With this initial introduction, you are asking your representatives to do nothing, which can be surprising to them, but they will appreciate your call.
To find your legislators click here.
No matter which party you support or who represents you, you can almost always find something that your legislator voted on that you agree with. Starting your conversation with a thank you can be an effective way to grab their attention.
Phone calls are more effective than any other form of communication with your legislators. Emails and letters can also be helpful, but talking with your legislator or someone from his/her office is immediate and usually more memorable. It also gives them a chance to ask you questions, if they have any. At this point it is also helpful to leave them with WPA’s website should any additional questions arise. Remember that, as a homeschooler, you are really only trying to make two points:
- The homeschooling laws in Wisconsin are working and you want them to remain as they are.
- As a homeschooler, you do not want any favors from the state.
If you are nervous about calling, plan your points in advance and call after-hours to get your legislator’s voicemail. Remember that when you call, you should begin the call with your home address so the legislator knows you are one of their constituents. Personal responsibility is the foundation of homeschooling in Wisconsin. Knowing how the legislative process works, and getting involved, are part of protecting our homeschooling freedoms. We are always happy to hear from members about issues in your area. Please keep in touch.
The short answer: There are no federal or state income tax breaks for homeschool parents in Wisconsin. Homeschool parents may not claim the educator expense deduction, nor can tax-favored funds from a 529 plan be used to pay expenses for homeschool students.
Homeschooling expenses are not deductible in Wisconsin.
The long answer: The definition of an eligible educator for the purpose of the deduction is found at 26 USC §62(d)(1)(A) which says, “For purposes of subsection (a)(2)(D), the term ‘eligible educator’ means, with respect to any taxable year, an individual who is a kindergarten through grade 12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal, or aide in a school for at least 900 hours during a school year.”
The definition of school is detailed at 26 USC §62(d)(1)(B), which defines a school as “any school which provides elementary education or secondary education (kindergarten through grade 12), as determined under State law.”
In Wisconsin, homeschooling is legally known as a “home-based private educational program” and is statutorily different than a “school” as defined in federal and state tax code. The authority for statutory adjustments to income (the technical name for above-the-line deductions) is found in the statute at 26 USC §62(a)(2) titled “Certain trade and business deductions of employees.” The deduction was designed and is intended to reimburse paid employees for out-of-pocket expenses, not to serve as a catchall for educators.
We have a unique situation in Wisconsin that homeschoolers in most other states do not have. We have an enormous amount of freedom to homeschool in whatever way works for our family as long as we follow our reasonable homeschool law.
In order to maintain the freedom that Wisconsin homeschoolers have enjoyed since 1984, we must say no to government money and special treatment for homeschoolers that will lead to additional regulation.
- All government favors come with the requirement of accountability. Taxpayers are right to expect accountability for how our tax dollars are spent.
- In order to maintain our current homeschooling law, we must forgo tax credits, educational vouchers, and/or other types of privileged considerations to homeschoolers
- In other states where these types of “benefits” are offered to homeschoolers they come with regulation such as mandatory testing, curriculum approval, special qualifications for homeschooling parents, and/or oversight of homeschoolers by local school districts.