Arizona Tax Credits

Kotterman v. Killian
Arizona Tax Credits (State Court Case)

In 1999, the Arizona Supreme Court struck a major blow for educational freedom when it upheld the state’s Education Tax Credit program as constitutional.  Arizona became the third state (after Wisconsin and Ohio) to declare a K-12 school choice program constitutional under both the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and its state constitution’s religion clauses. 

The strongly worded opinion in Kotterman v. Killian provided a preview of the current legal battle over state constitutions’ religious provisions when it declared Arizona’s Blaine Amendment “a clear manifestation of religious bigotry” and refused to strike down the program under the provision.  The discriminatory Blaine Amendments, found in 36 other state constitutions, are one of the favorite legal tools of school choice opponents.

The Arizona legislature passed the Education Tax Credit Program in 1997 to provide tax credits of up to $500 for taxpayers who contribute to programs that provide scholarships to students to attend private schools at the K-12 level.  It also provides $200 credits for contributions to public schools for extracurricular activities.  The program helps disadvantaged children trapped in poor public schools attend the private schools of their choice.

Essential Background



Backgrounder: none available


Client Photo - none available

Latest Release: U.S. Supreme Court Lets Stand Arizona School Choice Decision (October 4, 1999)


Client Video - none available




Legal Briefs and Decisions

Launch Release: National School Reform Organization vows to Defend Arizona Tax-credit Program (September 29, 1997)


none available


Case Timeline

Unions’ Filed Lawsuit:


September 29, 1997

IJ Intervention Filed:


October 6, 1997

Court Filed:


Arizona Supreme Court



January 27, 1999: Arizona Supreme Court declares tax credit program constitutional under First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and Arizona Constitution’s Blaine Amendment



Case Completed


Additional Releases


Maps, Charts and Facts

Release: In Major First Amendment Ruling, Arizona Supreme Court Upholds School Choice Tax Credit (January 27, 1999)


Visit our comprehensive School Choice Media Kit


Release: Arizona Superintendent Keegan Joins Low-Income Families & Taxpayers In Defense of Education Tax Credit Program (October 6, 1997)






Op-eds, News Articles and Links



Video: Where does the alphabet end?; (August 23, 2010)

Article: School-Voucher Movements Wins Victory In Top Arizona Court in Tax-Credit Case (January 28, 1999)


Article: Arizona’s court lets tax break hold up; No violation of church and state (January 28, 1999)

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