District encourages community support with tax credit donations

By NIKKI SMITH,

It’s nearing that time again.

Through the Mississippi Early Learning Collaborative legislation, support for a Mississippi Department of Education approved early learning collaborative could make individuals and corporations eligible for a 1:1 state tax credit for a donated amount up to $1 million. 

The deadline to receive the Mississippi pre-K tax credit will be Dec. 31.

Last year, Petal School District received approximately $530,000 through the tax credit. Coleman Center for Families and Children (CFFC) Director Dede Smith said the district is now planning to recognize those who donated through the tax credit with a special event next month.

Smith said they intend to host the donors for a breakfast on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 8 a.m. to thank them and show them the evidence of their giving by exhibiting the programs that the money helped.

She hopes to host previous participants in the CFFC auditorium so that the children may stop by to show them the “evidence of their contributions.”

“We also would like to encourage participation for this year,” Smith said.

The sum of the donations eligible for the tax credit cannot exceed the amount appropriated by the Legislature and will be credited on a first-come, first-served basis.

Those who donate in the Petal area are eligible to receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit after sending their Mississippi tax dollars to the Petal Early Learning Collaborative. This opportunity is available again this year, and Smith is asking for support for these early childhood efforts.

The process for participating is as follows. First, send the donation to the Petal Early Learning Collaborative at 201 West Central Avenue; Petal, Mississippi, 39465 by December 31 (up to the amount of your MS State taxes for 2015) and secure the donation receipt.

Then one must indicate the donation when filing state taxes by using form 80-401, which can be found on the Department of Revenue’s website. File early to receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit.

The Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013 expanded state-funded pre-K programs at 11 sites across Mississippi, which provides funds to these programs and also features a provision for Mississippi taxpayers.

Whatever amount is owed to the state can be directly given to the local learning collaborative, which means taxpayers can opt to keep their money in Petal rather than send it to Jackson where it will be pooled and allocated throughout the state.

The state of Mississippi provides half the costs to provide pre-K services for four year old children in half and full-day programs. The other half must be provided by local matching funds, which could include local tax dollars, federal dollars, parent tuition, philanthropic contributions or in-kind donations such as the tax credit.

The Petal Early Learning Collaborative began receiving grant funds to start up in January, and 20 students enrolled in Petal School District’s pre-K class for the 2014-15 school year.

While the center will be closed for a while during the holidays, Smith said she and William Wheat worked through Christmas break to ensure that they were available to answer questions and receipts were sent to individuals whose donations were postmarked on or before Dec. 31.

Call the Center for Families and Children at 601-584-4704 or 601-549-8688 for more information.