[Content was a featured post on ACSTO’s ‘News & Updates’ blog on 10/25/12.
Click for blog link here.]
<Forward: I truly enjoyed writing this blog as the opening post for ACSTO’s new ‘News & Updates’ site. Sure it fits into the Blogging and Technical Writing skill categories, but it delves further into writing prowess than that. This is a Visionary statement, revealing what makes the heart of the organization beat. Writing in such a way as to accurately ‘wear your emotions on your sleeve’ requires intimate knowledge of your audience and what motivates them as well as the mission of the organization and any procedural requirements. The end result should show how they harmoniously overlap.>
Here at ACSTO, Christian private schools are our passion. It is hard to think of what could be better than seeing children raised up in an educational environment tailored to their needs and founded on Christian principles. That is why our mission, day in and day out, is to help these schools succeed. This mission forms the basis for our values, for how and why ACSTO operates the way that it does.
We accomplish this mission through the effective implementation of Arizona’s individual tuition tax credit laws. These laws authorize taxpayers to donate to School Tuition Organizations (STOs) like ACSTO and we are able to award that money as tuition scholarships to students attending private schools in Arizona. For their donation taxpayers are then able to receive a dollar-for-dollar credit against their Arizona income tax for that year, up to the annual maximum, or their actual tax, whichever is less.
So while our mission is clear, taxes are known for being quite muddy. That is why ACSTO is available for questions regarding how the tax credit works, how we operate, and how you can be involved. However, we are not tax consultants, so we always recommend you speak with your CPA regarding your specific situation. Because of the complexities in these laws there is an unfortunate amount of misinformation out there. ACSTO strives to be a source of accurate and reliable information. We are tuned in to legislative developments, are very familiar with tax credit law, closely follow school choice news and research, have a lot of excellent resources available on our website, conform all our organizational procedures and by-laws to current law, and maintain precise records for our students and donors.
In addition to being a source of accuracy, ACSTO understands the need for stability. Many challengers are not afraid to yell at their opposition from the rooftops, taking every opportunity to ‘discredit’ the program. That is why ACSTO has stood at the forefront of legal challenges to the tax credit program that have lasted since is inception in 1998 and only recently put to rest in our favor by the United States Supreme Court in ACSTO v. Winn in early 2011. From time to time during that legal challenge opponents used poorly phrased slogans and poorly implemented procedures of some STOs to bring the credibility of the program under suspicion. Therefore, everything that an STO does should be done with careful consideration. All literature, solicitations, websites, and even operational procedures tell a story. What you imply is just as dangerous as what you say outright.
We can summarize the need for stability in two parts: 1) as a financially oriented organization, we need to be trustworthy; 2) as an organization firmly rooted in tax credit laws, we need to be legally sound.
If you are ever in a position where you are asking why ACSTO does what it does, or why it chooses to operate a certain way, you question is mostly likely answered by one of two reasons: 1) ACSTO strives to be a source of accuracy or 2) ACSTO understands the need for stability. It is our firm belief that these two principles are the best way to ensure that the tax credit laws are effectively utilized and survive any and all opposition. It is important to protect the tax credit laws because they protect our private Christian schools and they provide much needed assistance for parents and children. That, in turn, fulfills our mission.