WASHINGTON (September 26, 1997) -- Msgr. Thomas McDade, the U.S. Bishops' Secretary for Education, has urged members of Congress to support the Parent and Student Savings Account Plus Act (PASS A+), currently before them.
"PASS-A+ rewards planning ahead for all children's school expenses and shows support for family involvement in a child's education from the day the child is born," said Msgr. McDade. "It benefits the parents of both public and non-public school students and shows government support for families who seek ways to prepare for and enhance their children's education, no matter where they go to school. Congressional support for such a law puts action behind words of concern for the financial burdens faced by U.S. families, especially young ones, every day. PASS A+ deserves high marks."
Msgr. McDade added that PASS- A+ legislation should find support even from those who cannot accept vouchers for non-public schools.
"Whereas vouchers would benefit families who send their children to non-public schools and need assistance in making this educational choice, PASS-A+ would benefit families no matter where they educate their children. It's hard to see how anyone in favor of helping families could oppose this legislation," he said.
The PASS A+ legislation is a bipartisan effort to give families a tax break on annual savings for their children's elementary and secondary education. It would allow families to place up to $2,000 annually in after-tax income into a dedicated "A+" education savings account. Interest earned on the savings and withdrawals from the account for qualified K-12 education expenses would be tax-free.
"PASS-A+ benefits families no matter where they choose to educate their children," Msgr. McDade said. "It helps families provide for significant educational expenses, including everything from paying tuition in non-public schools, purchasing computers for their homes, providing for tutoring and buying basic school supplies. PASS-A+ also gives incentive to families to plan ahead so that they can create the best educational environment possible for their children."
PASS-A has been introduced in both chambers of Congress by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-GA; Senator Paul Coverdell, R-GA; Senator Robert Torricelli, D-NJ, Senator Joseph Lieberman, D-CT, and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-MS.
According to an example highlighted by Senator Coverdell's office, a family of four earning $45,000 per year saving the maximum for one child, would accumulate $14,488 by the time the child is six. The interest earned, estimated at $2,488, would be exempt from $373 in taxes with the new bill. Such educational accounts, which are similar to IRAs, would also allow other individuals or corporations to contribute, which could be especially helpful for lower income families.
Proponents highlight five attributes of the bill, noting it
- Directly benefits all school children.
- Encourages parents to save.
- Provides equitable support for every family's own educational priorities.
- Supports all schools, public and non-public.
- Benefits families who receive tax benefits from investment of their own money.