Parents would get new federal tax breaks for sending their children to private or religious schools or teaching them at home if the final Republican tax overhaul bill becomes law.
For that, they can thank Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who offered the original amendment to extend 529 college savings plans to grade school and high school, including costs for homeschooling.
Cruz’s amendment was the only one, setting aside manager’s amendments, to be added on either chamber's floor. It passed as Republicans moved their bill through the Senate in the closing hours of Dec. 1. Cruz got an assist from Vice President Mike Pence, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the amendment after Republicans Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine balked at the measure.
The amendment, which would allow $10,000 per child to be distributed from tax-privileged 529 savings plans each year, was included in Friday’s joint House-Senate conference bill. It would represent a tax cut of about $500 million over 10 years, according to Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation.
With the Cruz amendment’s inclusion, passage of the bill would represent a major advancement for school choice at the federal level.
The House version of the legislation contained a similar measure. It also included a noteworthy provision that would have permitted parents to open 529 accounts for unborn children. That language, which pro-abortion rights supporters had decried as an attempt to restrict abortion through the tax code, didn’t make it into the final bill.
Correction: This article has been corrected to say that the provision backed by Cruz is projected to lose $500 million in revenues over 10 years, not $500 billion.