People who want to support Jewish day schools shouldn’t let a state cap on an income tax program deter their participation, former Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta Chairman Marty Kogon says.
Kogon was the first chairman and is a board member of the ALEF Fund, a nonprofit student support organization that enables Georgians to designate their state income taxes to help Jewish day schools and preschools provide scholarships.
The ALEF Fund is not a charity, Kogon emphasized while speaking at the monthly meeting of the Jewish Breakfast Club on Wednesday, June 15, but a way for people to choose where their tax dollars go. An individual or corporation can designate ALEF Fund contributions for a specific school.
“Eighty or 90 percent of students have their grandparents helping pay for school in one way or another,” Kogon said, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, which created the ALEF Fund, is trying to bring down the cost for families.
Although the technicalities of the state program behind the ALEF Fund are complex, the process is simple.
“You’re going to spend it anyway,” Kogon said of state income taxes. All you have to do is submit an application to direct a certain amount of the taxes through the ALEF Fund to your chosen school.
Since the fund was started in 2008, the amount of money designated to Jewish schools has increased steadily, but so has the money designated to
similar funds for other private schools.
Georgia has capped the amount of tax money that may go to student support organizations for private schools at $58 million. This year and last year, the state received applications totaling far more than that amount on the program’s first day.
The state approved only the applications received that first day — and only a prorated percentage of each requested contribution so that the $58 million stretched across all those applicants.
Still, Kogon urged everyone to designate tax money to the ALEF Fund. The more money the fund raises in applications, the higher the percentage of the $58 million will be allotted to Jewish schools.