By David Safier
In yesterday's post, Two dirty little secrets about tuition tax credits, I mainly presented facts about the way individual tuition tax credits are structured. But I also took three leaps into the realm of conjecture, and I would be grateful if anyone out there who has the facts will let me know whether my conjectures are right or wrong.

Here are the two facts I presented:

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  1. People who give tuition tax credits can recommend who they want the scholarship to go to, so long as the child is not a dependent. The STO doesn't have to honor the recommendation, but it usually does.
  2. Scholarships given by STOs don't have to be means tested. They can go to children of any family, regardless of income.

Those are facts. Here are the conjectures, which I'm less sure of:

  1. Something like 80% of tuition tax credit donations recommend a specific student to receive the scholarship.
  2. School Tuition Organizations follow the scholarship recommendations more often than not.
  3. Instead of offering the majority of tuition tax credit scholarships to students with the greatest financial need — students who would qualify or nearly qualify for free lunch at a public school — the scholarships tend to go to children whose families have middle class or higher incomes.

Lots of people out there know enough about tuition tax credits and STOs to either tell me my conjectures are more-or-less accurate, or they're incorrect, citing facts and figures.

The Goldwater Institute, which I know has people who follow my posts, at least those that mention Goldwater Institute, is intimately connected with both Arizona School Choice Trust, an STO, and Arizona School Choice Administrative Corporation, which takes care of the STO's fundraising and administrative expenses. In 2006, the most recent tax return I have, Arizona School Choice Trust lists Clint Bolick as Chairman and Darcy Olsen (President and CEO of G.I.) and Matthew Ladner as Board Members. Also in 2006, Darcy Olsen was a board member of the Arizona School Choice Administrative Corporation along with Matthew Ladner. In 2005, Clint Bolick and Ladner were both listed as Directors.

I would guess members of other School Tuition Organizations are aware of my posts as well. Some of them must be interested enough about what's being said about their organizations to get Google Alerts when the term comes up in a news story or blog post.

If my three conjectures are wrong, in whole or in part, someone should straighten me out. If they're right, in whole or in part, it would be helpful to have that confirmed.

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