FAQ for Donations to Innovative Educational Programs in public schools.
What is this program?
The 2015 Montana legislature passed legislation that provides tax credits for individuals and corporations for charitable donations to an education improvement account for the purpose of funding innovative educational programs and technology deficiencies in public schools. The amount of the tax credit is equal to the amount of the donation, not to exceed $150. The aggregate amount of tax credits for donations to the education improvement account is limited to $3 million in tax year 2016. If the limit is reached in a year, the aggregate amount will increase by 10% in the succeeding tax year.
Donations made to the educational improvement account will be distributed to public schools by the Office of Public Instruction. A taxpayer may designate a donation among eleven regions in the state and/or the seven largest school districts. Donations to regions will be distributed to the school districts in the region in proportion to the number of quality educators in a school district compared to the number of quality educators in the region. The funds must be deposited in the district's school flexibility fund, and the district is required to report the expenditure of supplemental funding for specific schools to the superintendent of public instruction.
How can I make a donation and receive the tax credit?
This website will take you through the steps of entering your taxpayer identification data, obtaining preapproval for the tax credit, choosing which large district or region should receive your donation, and making the payment of the donation. You will receive a confirmation code which you will enter on your tax return next year in order to receive the tax credit.
Can I donate to a specific school?
No, donations will be allocated to all of the schools in the region or large district chosen.
Can I donate to more than one region or large district?
Yes, you can allocate your donation to as many regions and/or districts as you would like. For a map of the regions and large districts, click here.
Do I have to choose a region or district?
No, there is also an option to donate based upon your residence in which case the donation will go to the region or district of your residence.
Do I have to donate $150?
No, you can donate any amount you wish. If you donate more than $150, you will only receive a tax credit for $150.
What payment options are allowable?
You can pay online using a credit card, debit card, or electronic check. If you choose any of these options, you will be directed to the state online payment site. You will also have to pay a convenience fee for these options which will be shown to you prior your final approval of the transaction.
You will also have the option to register the tax credit, print a form showing the information, and mail a check along with the form to OPI. No convenience fee will be charged for this option.
Can I just mail a check to OPI and claim the tax credit next year?
No, the total tax credits for this program are capped at $3 million. You have to preapprove the tax credit on this web site in order to claim the tax credit on your return.
What if I misplace my confirmation code?
You can retrieve your confirmation code at any time on this web site.
What happens if the aggregate cap of $3M is exceeded?
The available tax credits are displayed on the home page. When the available credits are reduced to zero, you will still be able to make a donation, but you will not be able receive a tax credit for your donation.
What if I file a joint tax return?
If you click the option on the taxpayer identification entry screen to indicate you are filing a joint return, the available tax credit for your donation will be $300.
Can I make multiple donations through the year?
Yes, your ePass logon connects you to all data you have entered and donations you have made. You can donate $100 in January and another $50 in December if there are tax credits still available.
When can I donate?
You must make your donation in the calendar year for which you wish to claim the tax credit. If you opt to pay by mailing a paper check to OPI, the envelope you send must be postmarked no later than December 31.
Who can I contact if I have questions not covered by the FAQ?
For problems with the web site or questions on the tax credit program, contact the Department of Revenue at 866-859-2254. For questions about the distribution of funds from this program to public schools, contact the Office of Public Instruction at 406-444-3249.