BY MITCHELL KOPELMAN /SPECIAL FOR THE AJT//
One of the simplest ways we can support Jewish continuity and Jewish education is by redirecting our taxes through the ALEF Fund. The Fund offers a way to help the Jewish community at virtually no cost as well as possible savings to you and your family.
The impact can be huge: So far this year, taxpayers have provided over $1.25 million to the ALEF Fund for scholarships to students wanting to attend one of our community’s Jewish day or high schools.
For those of you who don’t know, the ALEF Fund is a Student Scholarship Organization (SSO) created by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta in 2008 after new legislation was enacted that allows Georgia taxpayers to redirect a portion of their Georgia Income Tax and receive a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit.
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The money is redistributed to the SSO and then designated to assist students in affording private school. Over the past six years, the ALEF Fund has helped taxpayers redirect over $7 million to scholarships at participating Jewish pre-K, day schools and high schools.
Currently the ALEF Fund represents 11 of the Jewish schools in the metro Atlanta area: Congregation Beth Shalom (Alefbet Pre-K), The Alfred and Adele Davis Academy, The Epstein School, Congregation Etz Chaim (Pre-K), Katherine and Jacob Greenfield Hebrew Academy, both MJCCA Preschools (for Pre-K), Temima: The Richard and Jean Katz High School for Girls, Temple Emanu-el (Schiff Pre-K), the Doris and Alex Weber Jewish Community High School and Yeshiva Atlanta.
By contributing to the ALEF Fund, you, the taxpayer, help make sending a child to Jewish school more affordable for those in need of assistance. But there are some restrictions in this process; for the past two years, the state cap has been reached for funds available to SSOs.
In 2011, state funds ran out in November, and in 2012 the cap was reached in mid-August. This year, as the popularity of the tax credit has grown, and the cap may likely be reached between April and June.
Also, a taxpayer is limited to the amount he or she may redirect. A married couple filing jointly may redirect up to $2,500, and an individual may redirect up to $1,000. Corporations and non-grantor taxpaying trusts can each claim a credit up to 75 percent of their Georgia income tax liability.
And lastly, a taxpayer must fill out the Georgia Form IT-QEE-TP1. It is a simple two-page form that you can find on the ALEF Fund website (aleffund.org; email AFeldman@jfga.org for assistance).
In addition to the dollar-for-dollar state tax credit you will receive, you can also deduct this amount as a charitable donation on your federal income tax return. If you are subject to Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), you can actually save up to 29 percent by replacing your state tax deduction with a charitable deduction to the ALEF Fund.
And to make things even better, the fund accepts credit cards.
The ALEF Fund is of huge benefit to families who wish to send their children to Jewish schools, so I hope you will consider redirecting your state taxes to promote Jewish continuity through this free mitzvah.
Remember that time is of the essence; contact the ALEF Fund now to ensure your approval before the state cap is reached.
Mitchel Kopelman is a partner at Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP, where he serves as Practice Group Director, Tax Group. He also serves as treasurer of The ALEF Fund. For more information, feel free to contact Mitchell Kopelman at Mitchell.firstname.lastname@example.org.