In this episode of the Creating Future Leaders Podcast, we interview Caitilin Wooten. Caitlin Wooten is the Director of Finance and Compliance at Catholic Education Arizona. She has a background working for the Arizona Department of Revenue where she fostered her skills in accounting, school and tuition organization compliance, and credit law and process.

Wooten understands the importance of developing students into well-rounded people and is currently pursuing her second master’s degree in leadership to help further implement these beliefs into each Catholic school she works with. Wooten will soon be celebrating her five-year anniversary at Catholic Education Arizona.

The Development of Tax Credits

During her time at the Arizona Department of Revenue beginning in 2012, Wooten started by processing tax returns. Following that role, she became an economist where she worked with not only tuition tax credits but public schools, charities, foster care, and more. Her primary focus was working with Karen Jacobs on the school tuition organization tax credits. She worked closely with over 60 programs during this time.

The original tax credit emerged in 1997, which was the opportunity for individuals to give tax credits to private schools. Once this program saw success, the state of Arizona allowed corporations to direct their taxes as well. Eventually, this program covered children coming from public schools into private schools as well as those children with special needs.

How CEA Utilizes Tax Credits

Catholic Education Arizona has been able to create an environment for innovation and, in turn, help more children and families create the future leaders of our world. CEA was able to award around $361,000 in scholarships to roughly 150 disabled and displaced students in the past two years. Thanks to help from people like Wooten, this complicated process went off virtually seamlessly. Some students don’t qualify based on paperwork alone and CEA helps those families obtain the help they need to qualify for the program as well.

The Disabled Displaced Program

For any corporations who want to give their tax dollars, the Disabled Displaced Program is also an option to direct your tax dollars to. The low-income dollar amount is growing every single year, and the legislature is constantly throwing out ideas to increase this number of disabled and displaced children. This is originally referred to as Lexi’s Law based on a student in the early 2000s who was denied education.

When processing the regular corporate tax credit submissions, there is a long timeline that is followed. At the beginning of July, the Department of Revenue is given the names of the corporations wanting to participate in the programs. The department then states how much money is left per program, for disabled/displaced, and low-income. This process has evolved over the years and has become more efficient and makes sure the money is used for the proper avenues. You want to take advantage of this immediately because money doesn’t stay available for long.

Consider Donating Your Tax Dollars

These tax tuition credits don’t cost you anything because they’re simply redirecting your tax dollars, and you get the benefit of providing children with the education they deserve. Statistics speak for themselves. This is a great investment no matter who you are or what background you come from. According to Niche, roughly one in five students who attend Catholic school are not Catholic themselves but attend those schools for a quality education. Fostering the future of our world is important for everyone.

Going into the 25th anniversary of CEA, there’s so much to be excited about. There’s a new bishop coming in, a fantastic board of directors, great Catholic school leadership, and stakeholders willing to help these children. All of this is thanks to a group of people committed to the mission! If you want to find out more information on the CEA, give us a call today at (602) 218-6542.