The Tax Credit Scholarship Process
Invest In Kids Act
The Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship Program offers a 75 percent income tax credit.
Individuals and businesses that contribute to qualified Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs).
Scholarship Granting Organization
The SGOs then provide scholarships for students whose families meet the income requirements.
Students can attend qualified, non-public schools in Illinois.
Illinois enacted the Invest In Kids Scholarship Tax Credit Program in 2017. This program offers a 75 percent state income tax credit to individuals and businesses that contribute to qualified Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs), such as Empower Illinois. The SGOs then provide scholarships for students whose families meet the income requirements to attend qualified, non-public schools in Illinois.
K-12 students who meet need-based eligibility requirements can apply for and receive scholarships through the Invest in Kids Act.Tax credit scholarships will cover up to 100% of private school tuition up to a maximum of the average Illinois cost to educate, which is roughly $14,000. Students with unique learning needs, including those who are gifted, English language learners, or those with special education qualifications, will receive larger scholarships based on scholarship multipliers in the Invest in Kids Act.
Individual and corporate donors may receive an Illinois state tax credit equal to 75 percent of donations to an SGO. For example, if a taxpayer donates $1,000 to an SGO; they are eligible to claim a $750 tax credit on their taxes for the year in which they made the donation.
Tax credits are capped at $1 million per taxpayer per calendar year; a donor can contribute about $1.33 million to receive the maximum tax credit allowed. Donors cannot receive a federal deduction for gifts made through this program. Total tax credits are capped at $75 million per year statewide, which equates to $100 million in donations and scholarships. Please consult a tax professional to determine making a gift can affect individual tax liability.
Individuals may direct their donations to a particular school or subset of schools, but not to an individual student or group of students. Corporate donors cannot designate their donations to a particular school.
Donors can begin the process by making an account with the Illinois Department of Revenue at mytax.illinois.gov. After the registration process, which can take up to 10 business days, donors will be ready to reserve their tax credit beginning January 2 each year on a first-come, first served basis. When reserving their tax credit, donors should select Empower Illinois as the Scholarship Granting Organization. Once their credit has been reserved, they have 60 days to make their donation to an SGO. Empower Illinois accepts gifts through ACH, checks, stocks, bonds and credit cards.
Donor Designation Options
Not sure what school to designate your gift? Empower Illinois supports a variety of initiatives under the Tax Credit Scholarship Program.
Matching Gift Programs
Empower Illinois is committed to empowering schools in their local fundraising and donor-base development. Through partnerships with donors or groups of donors who wish to support school communities in their fundraising efforts, Empower Illinois runs matching gift programs. Matching Gift Programs help introduce the Tax Credit Scholarship Program to more donors and increase schools’ fundraising. More information on Matching Gifts can be found in our Annual Reports.
Black Education Excellence (BEE) Initiative
Education, and access to a best-fit school, is a powerful tool to counter inequity and ensure all kids can reach their full potential. The Black Education Excellence (BEE) Initiative is a new network of private schools that serve the Black community in Illinois. The BEE Initiative can receive designated Tax Credit Scholarship (TCS) donations from donors who wish to support Black students by providing access to a best-fit K-12, private school. Participating schools must meet three criteria: (1) partners with Empower Illinois for the Tax Credit Scholarship Program; (2) schools with greater than 85% Black student population per the 2018-2019 or the 2019-2020 ISBE school data; (3) schools with a total student population greater than 100.
Academy of St. Benedict the African Augustus Tolton Catholic Academy Chicago Jesuit Academy Christ Our Savior Catholic School Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory Cornerstone Christian School Eagle Academy Christian School – Lansing Heritage Leadership Academy Holy Angels School Holy Family School Leo High School Oakdale Christian Academy Providence-St Mel School Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School St Ailbe School St Angela School St Catherine of Siena-St Lucy St Ethelreda School St John De La Salle School St Malachy School St Margaret of Scotland School St Mary of the Lake School St Philip Neri School St Sabina Academy St Thomas of Canterbury Unity Lutheran Christian School Village Leadership Academy