The Board of Education wants to know how much private schools have been getting in education tax credits in the last five years.
According to Board of Education chair Herman T. Guerrero, he requested for the information months ago from the Department of Finance but it has yet to be released.
“I requested, under the Freedom of Information, the tax credit for all the private schools, the amount that they’ve been getting the last five years, and they have not complied for the last almost four months or five months,” Guerrero said during the BOE’s special board meeting at the Azucena Hall of Fiesta Resort and Spa on Thursday.
The information was requested from the Department of Finance and, as mandated by the Open Government Act, the information should have been made available 10 days after the request.
“I know that…according to Finance, they were requesting an extension, so we did [give them that]. But the extension has come and gone, already months later, and still nothing is forthcoming,” Guerrero told Saipan Tribune.
“I expect that government officials will comply also with whatever laws. …Why couldn’t they give us the information right away? Stubbornness or just sloppiness or laziness is not in my book,” he added.
Guerrero said he wants to communicate with the Attorney General regarding the matter.
“I don’t care whether she’s the Secretary of Finance, she needs to comply with the Open Government Act. I want to write to the AG’s and point that out that she has not complied with our request. I’d like to see what the private schools are getting,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero said the ETC has always been an issue.
CNMI Public Law 10-73 provides incentives to private individuals and business entities to contribute to qualified educational institutions. Through this incentive taxpayers will be able to make cash contributions to qualifying educational institutions and receive a nonrefundable credit on their primary local taxes.
“The question is how much businesses or individuals are donating to the schools and writing it off as their taxes. A lot of the people, if you really look at it, a lot of the business people send their kids to the private schools,” Guerrero said.
For Guerrero, ETC should be given based on student populations.
“I think, perhaps, they should…amend the law and base it on student populations,” Guerrero said. “That would include even the private schools.”