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If you would like a pdf version to download of the following, Tuition Tax Credit 101, chose this link:


About TOPS
 
 

 

What is TOPS?
 

Tuition Organization for Private Schools is an Arizona school tuition organization specializing in helping an Arizona parent maximize their tuition dollars through the tuition tax credit program. 

 
How is TOPS unique?




T
OPS pays out the tuition dollars it receives on a quarterly basis.




We will come to each school to help inform parents and donors of the benefits of the tax credit program




• A r
epresentative will go to organizations, community programs, and churches to promote the benefits of the tuition tax
 

credit program.
 
 
 
 
 
 
What factors does TOPS consider when granting awards?
 
 
 
 

1. The applic
ant currently must be enrolled or have applied with a qualified private school in Arizona and have a tuition.
 
    
 
2. The applicant must have a current application process on file with TOPS (this must be done each year).
 
 

3.
Income:

 

Family Income

Tuition Coverage

Less than 185%*

Up to 100%

185% to 200%*

Up to 75%**

200% to 250%*

Up to 50%**

Above 250%*

Up to 25%**


                  * % of the free and reduced lunch program guidelines.
                  ** Unless it can be demonstrated there is a special need or merit.
 
All decisions of the committee are final. Scholarships can come from recommendations, the school fund, general fund or any combination of the three.
 

Arizona’s Individual Tax Credit: PLUS “Switcher”

Who Is Eligible?

The newly-created PLUS tax credit is specifically intended to bridge the gap for children who have had difficulty accessing a tax-credit scholarship. For that reason, existing scholarship recipients are not eligible for a PLUS scholarship. 
 
Eligible children include:
  1. Attended public school for 90 days of the prior fiscal year and transferred to a qualified school:
    • Governmental primary or secondary school (K-12)
    • Governmental preschool program for students with disabilities
  2. Enrolls in a qualified school in Kindergarten or a Preschool program for students with disabilities.
  3. Dependent of a member of the US Armed Forces who is stationed in AZ pursuant to military orders. (90 day public school requirement waived)
  4. Received a scholarship under 1, 2, 3, the low-income credit, or the disabled/displaced credit and continued to attend a qualified school. Student does not have to receive a scholarship every year thereafter.
Priority unofficially given to:
  • Those applicants on a school waiting list for a scholarship (eligible for a scholarship, but couldn’t attend previously due to lack of scholarship availability)
  • Siblings of current private school children waiting to enroll
The following students are NOT eligible for a scholarship from the PLUS program:
  • Current private school students who have not been receiving any scholarships
  • Current private school students who have received a scholarship from the original individual
  • Home-schooled students (unless they spent 90 days in a public or Charter school in the prior year)
Donor Information
  1. Financial limits of the PLUS “Switcher” program: $542 (single) or $1083 (married filing jointly)
  2. IMPORTANT NOTE: This program may only be contributed to by those who have donated the full $545 (single) or $1083 (married filing jointly) amount under the Original Individual Scholarship Program for the tax year in which the PLUS is being claimed.
  3. Donation limits are as following: 
    1. Original credit  $546/single   $1092/married 
      PLUS credit       $543/single   $1085/married
  4. Donors may recommend a private school of choice, or a student that fits the criteria listed above.

Recipient Questions
 
How do I receive a tuition scholarship?
 
You will need to fill out and submit the student application found at TOPSforKids.com no later than the 15th of the month before the scholarship award month (February, May, August, or November). An application only needs to be submitted one time per academic year.
 
When is my child eligible?
 
A child is eligible when an application has been completed, submitted, and an approval email has been sent to the recipient’s email. All scholarships are awarded quarterly by the selection committee based on TOPS criteria (see last page for criteria).
 
 
What if I change schools during the year?
 
• You may be subject to the school’s financial plan for paying for an incomplete month or semester
 
• If you go to another private school the funds will follow you to that school
 
• If you attend a public school/charter school, the funds will return to TOPS to be awarded to another needy student.
 
May my child receive funds from more than one organization?
 
There is nothing that prohibits you from receiving from more than one student tax organization.
 
May we exchange donations with another parent?
 
No, arranging with another parent or group of parents to recommend each other’s child violates both Federal and Arizona law.
 
Donor Questions
 
 
 
 
How is my donor information handled?
 
All donors’ information is kept in strictest confidence. Online forms are secure and checked monthly. We will not provide any information about the donor to the recipient, school, or any organization. No information is sold or given away to any other group. We will only contact you for questions about information changes, questions about your contribution and year-end tax information.
 
Does the contribution have to be made in one lump sum or can it be paid over time?
 
You can send any amount you want each month and at the end of the year you will receive an itemized statement. You also can have an automatic deduction made from your bank account. Call for details.
 
How much of the money I contribute actually goes to scholarships?
 
No less than 90% of all money donated goes to scholarships. The remaining amount is used by TOPS for administrative expenses.
 
How often are awards made?
 
Awards will be made quarterly (February, May, August and November). Donations made by the 15th of the month before the scholarship award will be considered by the selection committee.
 
How do I contribute?
 
• Go to TOPSforKids.com
 
• Fill out the secure online form with your credit card information, or fill the brochure and send a check to TOPS.
 
• Recommend a school or student to redirect your tax credit dollars. You can also leave the recommendation area blank and your donation will be distributed to the neediest students. The final decision on any scholarship is at the sole discretion of the TOPS Selection Committee.
 
How much may I contribute?
 
• If you are married and filing jointly you can contribute up to $2177.
• If you are single/head of household you can contribute up to $1089.
 
May I contribute less than the limit?
 
Yes, you can contribute any dollar amount up to the allowable limits.
 
May we contribute the maximum to both the public school extracurricular donation and the private school donation?
 
Yes, you can make the maximum contribution to both funds ($400 public / $2,177 private) and get $2,577 back from the state.
 
What if I contribute more than my taxable income?
 
Anything over the allowable limits will be considered a contribution and can be claimed on your taxes as a charitable donation, or the balance may be rolled over to the following year for the tax credit. You have up to five years to utilize the credit. (See AZ Tax forms 301, 323 and 348)
 
What if I am entitled to a tax refund?
 
You will get the tax refund and the tuition tax credit as long as you have a tax liability that does not exceed the total amount.
 
Can I deduct my tax credit as a contribution on my federal taxes?
 
TOPS for Kids is a federally tax exempt 501(c)(3) charitable organization. We do not give any tax advice. It would be best to check with your tax advisor for specific tax advice concerning your situation.
 
How do I get the tax credit back?
 
You will receive a statement of what you donated to TOPS for Kids by the end of January, if you donated by December 31. If you donate between January 1, 2017 and April 17, 2018, you will receive a statement approximately a week after your donation. Then you will need to fill out Arizona tax forms 301 and 323 & possibly tax form 348 if you contribute to the Switcher/PLUS program.  You can find the forms at www.revenue.state.az.us or at our link on this website at this location: Tax document link and file them along with your Arizona tax form.
 
How late in the year can I make a donation & still claim it for the tax year I am filing for?
 
You can donate up to April 17, 2018 and still claim it for the previous tax year.