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Attorney Deborah G. Stevenson, Executive Director
Editorial - Homeschool Tax Credits 01/06/11
Message to the “new Republicans” in Congress: Don’t You Dare Adopt Any More Laws that Are UnConstitutional, Especially Tax Credits for Homeschoolers – Even If They Do Sound Like A Good Idea.
Recently an article appeared in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/01/04/do-home-schoolers-deserve-a-tax-break?ref=opinion ) alleging that the “new Republicans” in Congress have as “one of their priorities” a “new federal rule: to give parents in every state tax credits if their children are home-schooled.” Tax credits for homeschoolers – sounds like a good idea, right? Wrong. Why? It’s unConstitutional and will grant new powers to the federal government it never had before - to define the term “homeschool”, to regulate it, and then to expand the federal government by adding new employees to enforce those regulations. Is that really what you, the “new Republicans” in Congress want to do? I hope not. Is that really what you have the authority to do? No, not at all.
Don’t be duped. The suggestion that the federal government should give homeschoolers a tax credit is not a new idea. It is the brainchild of a putative homeschool “friendly” organization, (HSLDA – Homeschool Legal Defense Association), that has been tossed around for a number of years like a bad penny. It may sound like a good idea, but it is a bad idea – a very bad idea – and it is totally unConstitutional.
Contrary to popular belief, the Constitution does not grant rights to the people. The Constitution limits the power of the federal government in order to protect the rights that the people and the States already have. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution spells out specifically what those limited powers are that are granted to Congress. Not one of those powers is the power concerning education. Let me repeat that: Congress has absolutely no power to regulate education of any kind. That is a power that the States, and the people, retained for themselves. How do we know that? We know that because the Constitution says so in the Tenth Amendment. The Tenth Amendment says,
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
In other words, if the power is not specifically written into the Constitution that it is delegated to the federal government, then that power is one that is reserved to the States or to the people. Simple. Clear. Period. End of story.
In fact, it is so simple that even Congress is well aware that it has no power to regulate education. That’s why it resorts to using bribery instead. When Congress wants to regulate education, it uses its other specifically enumerated power – the power to spend. Congress takes your tax money and spends it by offering to the States a bribe. Congress adopts a law that says it will give to the States X millions of dollars, or some other benefit, but only if the States will do as the federal government suggests that they do. These are the strings that are attached to the benefit, and there always are strings attached. If the States want the benefit, the States adopt a law putting into place all those things the federal government wants.
In come the “new Republicans”. Why were they elected? They were elected because the people were angry that their freedom was being eroded and that the Constitution was not being followed. The “new Republicans” have a job to do: to protect our individual freedom and to protect the Constitution. They took an oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. Why? Because the Constitution is the single best way ever devised by mankind to protect our individual freedom.
What are the “new Republicans” now being asked to do, though? Ostensibly, they are being asked, to “help” parents who have undertaken their obligation to instruct their own children, by giving them a “tax credit”. In reality, however, while many in Congress may think that sounds like a great idea and a magnanimous gesture to make, it is nothing of the kind, and it is unConstitutional.
Unlike States, parents who homeschool, so far at least, have not accepted any federal benefit for doing so. That means that when it comes to homeschooling, to date, Congress has not utilized its spending power, the only Constitutional means it has to have any say about education, even if it is by bribery. Therefore, Congress has absolutely no authority to adopt any law concerning homeschooling, at least not right now. That is a power that is reserved to the States and to the people. In fact, each State has its own laws and regulations concerning homeschooling, and in some States, parents actually enjoy their ability to educate their children freely, without undue government interference.
Freedom for homeschooling parents, however, may become a thing of the past, a relic, perhaps never to be unearthed again, if Congress adopts tax credits for homeschoolers. Parents might well enjoy such tax credits for the moment, but that momentary enjoyment will be short-lived when they come to realize the dire consequences that may occur after accepting such a federal bribe. What could happen? Well, imagine this scenario:
1. Congress adopts tax credits for homeschoolers.
2. Homeschoolers accept the tax credits.
3. Congress now has Constitutional authority over homeschooling.
4. The IRS Secretary adopts “regulations” to determine the definition of a “homeschool”, and to determine what courses, curricula, textbooks, timeframe, and method a parent can use in order to “qualify” for the tax credits.
5. The IRS audits your homeschool course, curricula, textbooks, timeframe, and method used.
6. The federal definition of the term “homeschool” conflicts with the State definition of “homeschool”. The Supremacy clause of the Constitution now applies, rendering the State definition of “homeschool” null and void. Parents must now comply with the federal definition of “homeschool”. The authority of state legislatures to regulate education within their state is usurped.
7. Parents who do not comply with the federal definition of “homeschool” may be in violation of the federal law.
8. Congress, the President, or the federal Education Department establish new laws or regulations dealing with violations of the federal “homeschool” law.
9. Parents are found to be neglectful of their children for violating the federal “homeschool” law.
10. Congress adopts new legislation establishing a federal Department of Child Protective Services.
11. The new federal Child Protective Services agency adopts new rules and regulations defining neglect and abuse, and hire new employees with investigative powers, and powers to remove the child from the home.
Is any of the above really too farfetched to be beyond reality?
Are parents really willing to give up their freedom for the price of some tax credits?
Is this really what the “new Republicans” want to do?
Is this really what we elected them to do?
Or, are they being duped by a putative homeschool “friendly” lobbying organization?
Haven’t we had enough of Congress adopting laws that “sound good” only to find out the consequences of that legislation were either not intended or not desired?
How much harder is it to undo the damage once it is done?
Shouldn’t the “new Republicans” do their own research and answer these questions before taking any action?
Will the “new Republicans” in Congress stand firm in upholding the Constitution, or will they, like so many others before them, be duped into adopting unconstitutional laws to please special interest groups?
Time will tell.
Author: Attorney Deborah G. Stevenson, Executive Director, National Home Education Legal Defense, LLC. © 2011. All rights reserved.
Attorney Stevenson formed National Home Education Legal Defense (NHELD) in 2003 to prevent the adoption of unconstitutional federal legislation concerning the rights of parents. NHELD’s website can be found at: www.nheld.com. Attorney Stevenson previously founded Connecticut Citizens to Uphold the Right to Educate, which operated from 1990 to 2003. She is currently legal advisor to the Connecticut Grassroots Alliance and has a private practice in Constitutional, Educational, and Appellate Law in Southbury, CT. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (860) 354-3590 or (203) 206-4282.