- Monday, May 13, 2024

As a homeschool dad, I can tell you that there are many cliches about homeschoolers that are not accurate. For example: Despite the “unsocialized homeschooler” stereotype, homeschoolers are often some of the most well-adjusted kids you’ll ever meet.

Similarly, the uninitiated might be surprised to learn that most homeschool families do not travel in 15-passenger vans. And though it might boggle the mind, you do not actually have to work at Chick-fil-A to graduate homeschool high school (though I’ve heard it’s a pleasure).

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But there is one cliche that, according to the numbers, is true: Homeschoolers, when compared to the national average, have more kids (I blame it on enthusiastic parent/teacher conferences).

While it’s impossible to quantify the life-giving blessing and life-changing responsibility that children bring, it’s an undeniable fact that kids are expensive to raise — and it’s not getting cheaper.

Children, taxes and credits

SEE ALSO: House passes bipartisan bill to cut business taxes, boost child tax credit

By way of introduction, my name is Joel Grewe. I am the Executive Director of HSLDA Action, a national advocacy organization that seeks to advance homeschool freedom. I am also a homeschool graduate and a dad of three homeschooled students.

If you have kids, you have likely benefited from the Child Tax Credit (CTC). This is the standard tax break that reduces the taxable income of families with kids, allowing those families to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets.

While there are debates over the specific thresholds and functionality of the Child Tax Credit, homeschool advocates have consistently supported the master concept. I want to take a moment to explain why we support it — particularly since, unless Congress acts, the current Child Tax Credit will soon expire.

The current Child Tax Credit is good for families of all types.

While the CTC can be particularly helpful for homeschool families, it is also good for families in general. The CTC is a rare instance where the tax code acknowledges the essential need for strong families in a healthy society. In addition to raising their kids, parents are raising the next generation of voters, taxpayers, leaders, teachers, and public servants. By making this investment in our national future, parents incur unique risks, responsibilities, and costs.

The Child Tax Credit has never come close to reimbursing parents for the majority of child-related costs, but it is nevertheless a practical reduction of burden that honors the important work of parents and families.

Why homeschool families value the Child Tax Credit

In addition to the aforementioned costs of raising a family, homeschoolers take on the financial burden and practical responsibility of educating their kids. For most homeschoolers, this also involves a serious time commitment as the parents are researching, planning, and delivering the majority of lessons. In many cases, one parent will leave the workforce to dedicate 100% of their work week to making homeschool possible.

Homeschool families span the socio-economic spectrum with a diversity present in few other subgroups.

The choice to homeschool comes at a cost. Homeschool parents enthusiastically embrace these sacrifices because they love their kids and want to provide them with the best possible education. But their enthusiasm does not make these costs any less real.

Sometimes, I see homeschoolers portrayed in media narratives as privileged, wealthy, elites. This frustrates me for several reasons. First, it communicates to the thousands of families for whom homeschooling is a true financial sacrifice, that they are alone, when the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.

Secondly, it demotivates those who would otherwise donate to support struggling homeschool families; if homeschoolers are wealthy, there is no need for financial support.

As my colleagues and I can attest to every year through HSLDA’s Compassion Grants, there are many homeschool families for whom even a few hundred dollars can be life-changing. Thanks to generous donors, this grant program has provided more than $15 million over the past 30 years to homeschool families in need.

This brings us back to CTCs: Homeschoolers support Child Tax Credits because we don’t support strings-attached funding.

HSLDA Action (the advocacy partner of the Home School Legal Defense Association) has earned a reputation for viewing government money with skepticism.

We view government money with skepticism because we are concerned that it will open the door to burdensome regulation and loss of freedom. Increased regulation hurts real families that are already busy living life, taking care of their children, and paying taxes. Is this kind of “help” the best we can come up with?

Families spend a huge portion of their budgets on their kids. Letting them find some relief makes sense! But we don’t believe that freedom is an appropriate trade-off.

It makes sense for us as a society to support efforts that help families make ends meet in today’s struggling economy. But instead of pushing families toward government programs and increased regulation, how about we have the government leave more money in the pockets of families during tax season?

The Child Tax Credit allows families to keep more of their own money. And in many situations, it allows some of that credit to be refundable. However, since refunds via tax credit are not part of a government subsidy program, they don’t present the same footholds for intrusive regulation and government overreach.

The Child Tax Credit is pro-homeschooling, pro-child, and pro-family. And these are things that have always been central to the heart of the homeschool movement.

As a homeschool dad and a homeschooling advocate, I enthusiastically support efforts to preserve, expand, and improve the Child Tax Credit for strong families and a free society.

Joel Grewe is the Executive Director of HSLDA Action, the policy arm of HSLDA. He is a homeschool graduate who is now a homeschool dad. Joel came to HSLDA in 2007 and led HSLDA’s Generation Joshua for over 15 years training home school students in how our government works and how they can have a positive voice in it.  Since 2019, he has led HSLDA’s efforts on federal policy, citizen advocacy, and youth engagement. 

HSLDA Action is the policy arm of HSLDA, a non-profit that supports homeschoolers in all 50 states. HSLDA Action works with HSLDA to promote educational freedom and advancing policy that is good for homeschooling families. HSLDA has been trusted for over 40 years to care for homeschooling families as we safeguard their freedom and secure the future of home education.

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