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Oklahoma Tax Commission delays rollout of Parental Choice Tax Credit Program

 Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers a press conference surrounded by House and Senate leaders. The administration unveiled an education funding package worth $785 million.
Beth Wallis/StateImpact Oklahoma
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers a press conference surrounded by House and Senate leaders. The administration unveiled an education funding package worth $785 million.

Oklahoma parents have been anticipating the rollout of the new Parental Choice Tax Credit program, which was supposed to happen Friday. But the Oklahoma Tax Commission says parents will need to wait a little longer.

The program was passed by the legislature this spring and gives families up to $7,500 per student for private school expenses. The initiative is being overseen by the tax commission, which contracted with third-party vendor Merit to manage the logistics.

According to OTC spokesperson Emily Haxton, private schools gather student data like income levels and contact information and send that to Merit. Merit then sends the families their individual Enrollment Verification forms, which they need to apply.

But Haxton said that part of the process has been slow, so it made the call to delay the rollout of the program until Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. To make sure the rollout is fair for all taxpayers, who apply on a first-come, first-served basis, the delay allows more parents to be prepared when the window opens.

Tulsa private school Holland Hall issued a letter to its families in response to the delay, saying the technical issues are the fault of Merit, and those issues have led to “many” Holland Hall parents not yet receiving their Enrollment Verification forms.

“We have uploaded the forms again, and Merit has all of the necessary information to generate the [Enrollment Verification forms]. They are responsible for emailing them to you,” the statement reads. “We hope that those who have not received their forms will get them before [Friday] morning, but Merit has not been able to guarantee that.”

The OTC can only authorize a maximum of $150 million in tax credits, so parents who don’t apply in time will miss out. The 60-day priority period for families with household incomes of $150,000 or less will be extended to Feb. 5, 2024.

Haxton says the agency has never handled a project of this size and it’s working diligently to “work through the kinks.” In a press release, assured parents the postponement would not result in a delayed disbursement of the first installment payments.

“We sincerely apologize to those who have been impacted by this unforeseen delay,” the statement reads. “Since beginning this implementation, our goal has been to simplify the experience for both taxpayers and schools. Although delaying the application start date does not meet our goal in the short term, we firmly believe it will ensure a fair and transparent experience for all.”

You can email any questions about the program to help@parentalchoice.ok.gov.


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Beth Wallis is StateImpact Oklahoma's education reporter.
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