By RENEE WEBB
Even before the new school year began, some Catholic schools fulfilled their tax credit allotment goals for the Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation.
According to Diane Donnelly, diocesan director of finance, Sacred Heart School in Spencer, Spalding Catholic in Alton and St. Mary School in Humboldt reached their goals. Last year, the earliest a diocesan school fulfilled the allotment was in September.
“In the past few years, we have been meeting our tax credit allotment earlier and earlier each year,” noted Donnelly. “We’ve noted a significant increase in the calendar year 2018, possibly due to the federal tax law changes in regards to itemized deductions.”
Aaron Greteman, a member of the MLTF board, said the new tax bill that was passed late last year placed limitations on the deductibility of state income taxes as an itemized deduction.
“With the limitations, the MLTF is even more attractive to taxpayers because the donation to the MLTF is still potentially deductible in the same way it has always been, whereas payments to the state for income taxes may be limited for many taxpayers,” said Greteman, who is a CPA with Erpelding, Voigt & Co., LLP, with offices in Algona, Humboldt, Okoboji, Buffalo Center and Fairmont, Minn.
As a result, the CPA said the MLTF is filling up much faster this year as taxpayers take advantage of that opportunity.
Donnelly agreed that this change has spiked people’s interest in making donations to STOs.
In the state of Iowa, donors who have an Iowa tax liability can receive a 65 percent state tax credit plus additional federal deductions on contributions to STOs. The Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation is the diocesan STO and this year it has a goal of raising about $2.87 million. Individual schools of the diocese have goals based on STO enrollment.
Sheriffa Jones, director of stewardship and development at Sacred Heart School and Parish in Spencer, said Sacred Heart fulfilled its tax credit allotment in mid-January this year compared with September last year.
“It feels amazing to have reached the goal so quickly,” said the development director, but she was quick to commend the donors and thank the CPAs and tax accountants for raising awareness about this valuable program.
While Sacred Heart has always met its goal fairly early, it has never been to this level. Because they had so many CPAs and tax-savvy donors, Jones said many knew by the end of 2017 they were going to give once the program opened in January. Her donors gave early in anticipation that tax credits would go quickly.
“People need to get in now,” Jones said. “I’m surprised we still have tax credits left. I think if you talk to any CPA or tax accountant they would agree, because it is such a great program.”
Funds raised through the MLTF provide tuition assistance for families who meet income requirements and have students attending one of the 16 diocesan Catholic schools. Since its inception, MLTF has awarded nearly $25 million to diocesan families.
Even prior to this year with the changes in tax laws, Donnelly said MLTF has been meeting its allotment of tax credits earlier each year. She urged people to give earlier rather than later, because the tax credits are going faster than ever before. Each STO in the state has a designated number of tax credits and once they are allotted, there are no more.
“We want to make our donors aware that our tax allotment is filling up much quicker this year than in past years,” she said. “We don’t want our donors to miss out on this opportunity to support their school and receive the 65 percent tax credit.”
As of the end of July, more than 46 percent of the diocesan goal has been reached for this year’s MLTF, compared to 19 percent at this time last year.
In addition to cash donations of any amount, Donnelly said they do accept gifts of stock and grain for the MLTF program. As always, donors are reminded to consult their tax advisors in regards to their personal tax situation.
For more information contact Donnelly at (712) 233-7594 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Royce Ranniger at (712) 233-7592 or email@example.com. There is also an online giving option on the diocesan website at www.scdiocese.org.