Mississippi First talks early learning tax credit at Rotary

Mississippi First founder Rachel Canter speaks to Starkville Rotary Club on Monday
Staff Writer

Starkville Rotarians received a lesson on how to support pre-K programs in Mississippi while getting some money taken off of their taxes Monday.

Starkville High school alumni and founders of Mississippi First Rachel Canter and Sanford Johnson spoke to the club about the tax credit available through the 2013 Early Learning Collaborative Act. The act was written by Mississippi First, which champions transformative education policy solutions in Mississippi. The act provides for a system of state-funded pre-K sites in Mississippi. So far, 14 early learning collaborative have been started statewide, including one serving Starkville and Oktibbeha County.

“When Sanford and I founded Mississippi First, one of our earliest goals was to get a state-funded pre-K law passed,” Canter said. “At the time that we started in 2008, Mississippi was one of 11 states that did not put any state dollars towards pre-K.”

Carter explained the importance of pre-K to children and communities.

It has some of the best education data behind it, in terms of interventions that work,” Carter said. “There’s actually over 40 years of great evidence-based data behind pre-K and its value.”

The law includes a tax credit allowing individuals and corporations to donate up to $1 million to the collaboratives. The credits are awarded on a first-come first-serve basis up to the amount appropriated by the state of Mississippi for pre-K. Donations can be earmarked for certain collaboratives.

“This tax credit is open to basically everyone if you do the things to qualify,” Canter said.

Carter said the credit would allow taxpayers to reduce their taxes, and emphasized the differences between it and a tax deduction.

“It’s like a coupon that reduces your taxes,” Canter said. “If it is a one-to-one tax credit like this is, for every dollar that you have the tax credit reduces it one dollar.”

In order to receive the credit, a donor must receive a tax receipt letter after donating and submit documentation of the donation along with their state tax form.

To donate to the Starkville-Oktibbeha Early Learning Collaborative, call 662-615-0033.