By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
Diocesan leaders have been saying for months that the Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation would allocate or “sell” all of its tax credits early this year.
Their predictions were accurate.
“We are full,” said Kristie Arlt, diocesan director of stewardship and communications. “We raised over $1.9 million on Nov. 15, which is the earliest we have ever filled. We are very excited about that.”
Last year the campaign had met its goal by Dec. 7.
“Our development directors and schools worked so hard with their donors – educating them on the importance of giving prior to that Nov. 15 deadline,” Arlt said. “This year, although tax credits were protected from other schools taking them before the deadline, we filled up at such a rapid rate that the unrestricted portion continued to grow.”
In the end, all but three of 17 schools met their target goals. However, she added, all schools did a fantastic job of working toward their goals.
The Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation Board had given all of the schools a target goal and a protection date of Nov. 15 to raise funds. After that point, tax credits would have been open for other schools to sell but they didn’t get a chance because the tax credits were gone.
Throughout the campaign, 10 percent of all contributions made to particular schools went to an unrestricted pot for use by schools with the greatest need. Toward the end of the campaign, some donors had opted to contribute directly to the unrestricted fund rather than to a particular school.
Arlt explained that the development directors realized early on that they had to get their donor gifts in much sooner rather than later this year.
“Luckily for all of us, the donors responded,” she said.
Given that the state establishes goals of the school tuition organizations (STOs) like the Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation, once all of the tax credits are distributed, they are gone. The diocese and its Catholic schools can accept no more contributions.
“We are sending checks back because we are full and we can’t take any more but it is important to our schools and the Msgr. Lafferty Foundation that we help all of the STOs across Iowa because all of us need to be successful,” Arlt said. “It shows our governor and the Iowa legislators that this program is very popular and we need as many of these tax credits as they are willing to give us.”
With a wish to help the Diocese of Des Moines and Archdiocese of Dubuque, she pointed out that they are sending gift forms from those two dioceses to the donors who were too late to take advantage of the tax credits offered through the Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation. More than $2 million tax credits remain in the state for those who do want or need to take advantage of the program.
State legislators in the last session already voted to increase the number of tax credits distributed by the STOs. Next year the Msgr. Lafferty Tuition Foundation will have $200,000 more credits to sell.
For next year, the Lafferty Board has already opted to extend the school protection date to Dec. 1. Arlt said that will mean that other schools will be unable to take other schools tax credits but they will still have to keep their eye on the unrestricted fund because these gifts use the overall number of tax credits available.
Since this year filled up so fast, even though more tax credits will be available next year she stressed the importance of giving early. Arlt stressed the importance of speaking with your tax preparer early to determine the amount of Iowa tax liability in order to secure the proper amount of tax credits.
“I am thrilled with how fast we reached our goal. Our schools have such generous people,” Arlt said. “We had schools that had met their goals and they had checks that they knew couldn’t go to their own school but could go to unrestricted – but to help other schools out they would call the donor and ask them to give to another school. The donors were more than happy to do so.”
If someone is interested in making a donation to a STO in order to get the huge tax benefits, contact the Catholic Tuition Organization in the Diocese of Des Moines at (515) 237-5010 and the Our Faith, Our Children, Our Future STO in the Archdiocese of Dubuque at (536) 556-2580.
Now that the fundraising portion of this campaign is over, the next step will be the application process for families seeking tuition assistance. That process will begin in late January.
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