Georgia Student Scholarship Organization

What is GaSSO?

GaSSO or Georgia Student Scholarship Organization Inc. is a state registered Student Scholarship Organization (SSO) as well as a 501-C-3 non-profit organization whose function is to facilitate the process of distributing tax credits in exchange for donations and to distribute funds for private school tuition scholarships. GaSSO partners with over 100+ Georgia private schools and has provided more than $50 million dollars in tuition scholarships supporting preK-12th grade.

How does the Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit work?

Because there are a specified amount of tax credits available each year ($100 million), a taxpayer must be pre-approved by the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR). This means that the DOR allocates a certain amount of the available tax credits specifically for each taxpayer.

Where is the Qualified Education Expense (QEE) Tax credit explained in the Georgia Law?

In 2008, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Qualified Education Expense (QEE) Tax Credit bill (HB 1133), and Governor Sonny Perdue signed it into law. The legislation was further amended in 2011 (HB 325), 2013 (HB 283), and 2018 (HB 217). The law provides for the creation of student scholarship organizations (SSOs) where Georgia individual and corporate taxpayers can donate in exchange for a state income tax credit.

The tax credit guidelines are listed in the Georgia Code Title 48 Chapter 7-29.16. The details of the qualified Student Scholarship Organization are listed in the Georgia Code Title 20 Chapter 2A. If you have any additional issues or questions, please refer the Georgia Department of Revenue website.

What is the maximum amount someone can donate to GaSSO in exchange for a Georgia education expense tax credit?

This is based on Tax filing status:

  • Individual: $1,000
  • Married Filing Joint: $2,500
  • Married Filing Separately: $1,250
  • Individuals who receive pass-through income can contribute up to $10,000
  • C-Corporation: Up to 75% of GA tax liability

How does a tax credit differ from a deduction?

A tax credit is better than a deduction. A credit reduces your Georgia taxes dollar-for-dollar while a deduction reduces the taxable income upon which taxes are calculated.

You will pay the same amount regardless whether you participate or not, you are just choosing to redirect a portion of your state tax dollars to the school of your choice.

How do I participate in the program?

It’s an easy 2 minute process. Complete the GaSSO Tax Credit Form by December 31st and GaSSO will submit your information on your behalf. GaSSO will receive your approval notice within 30 days. Once your Georgia Department of Revenue approval notice is received, fund your donation to GaSSO within 60 days of your approval date of your letter.

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What is the deadline to qualify for the tax credit?

To receive a tax credit, you must pledge to donate by December 31st, so that you can be approved by the DOR.  You will then receive approval from the Georgia Department of Revenue in January.  Once you receive approval, you then have 60 days from the date of your DOR approval letter to fund your donation to GaSSO.

What happens after I submit my pledge to GaSSO?

Once received, GaSSO will verify your information to ensure everything matches up within the DOR requirements.  GaSSO will submit your application to the DOR on the first business day in January.  Within 30 days of submission, you will receive a letter from the DOR indicating your pre-approved tax credit amount.  You will have 60 days from the date of your letter to fund your donation to GaSSO.  Once you fund your donation, GaSSO will mail you a tax credit receipt in January of the following year when you begin preparing your tax return. If the GA tax-credit scholarship cap is not met in January, DOR submissions will occur weekly.

When should I fund my donation to GaSSO?

Payment needs to be made after you received approval from the Department of Revenue or email from GaSSO. Payment must be made within 60 days from the date of your approval letter. (Typically Mid-January – Mid March).

What forms of payment does GaSSO take for donations?

GaSSO accepts donations using checks, credit card and now PayPal (6 months interest free with PayPal Credit)

Can I direct my donation to a specific student?

No assumption can be made that a donation will be turned into a scholarship for your child or any specific student!  GaSSO does not accept donations specifically designated to any recipient. Donors would lose their Georgia tax credit. GaSSO is a 501c3 non-profit organization and is bound by the state regulations. As a 501c3, GaSSO is not permitted to accept any donations directed to a specific individual. GaSSO would be jeopardizing its non-profit status and our SSO status.

Can I designate that my donation be split between multiple schools?

Yes. Simply indicate on your GaSSO tax credit application how much you would like to go to each school, and GaSSO will ensure your donation is allocated accordingly.

Who is Eligible for a Scholarship?

Student eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a Georgia resident and be 4 years old by September 1st
  • Qualified to enroll in Pre K, Kindergarten, or first grade - automatically eligible
  • Was enrolled in public school last year- automatically eligible

If never attended public school, Second grade and up must attend a Georgia public school for at least six weeks

The enrollment and six-week public school attendance requirements shall be waived in the case of a student who:

  • Based on residence, would be assigned to be a low-performing school
  • Documented cases of physical violence or verbal abuse threatening physical harm
  • Homeschooled year prior
  • Previously eligible

How do I apply for a GaSSO scholarship?

GaSSO works closely with our partner schools in awarding SSO scholarships. To apply for a GaSSO scholarship click below to complete the scholarship application form.

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Does the scholarship award count as income?

No. When receiving a GaSSO’s tax credit scholarship award, there is no requirement to include the amount as income on the State or Federal return.

Are there any tax filing restrictions to claim my credit?

Yes, you may only claim your credit if you file your taxes electronically.

What if I pay quarterly estimated taxes?

If you pay your current year’s Georgia income taxes on a quarterly basis, in four equal installments, due on April 15, June 15, September 15, and January 15 (of the following year), you can reduce a portion of each quarterly estimated income tax payment if you contribute to GaSSO for a tax credit within the same year.

How do I know what my Georgia income tax liability is?

Georgia income tax liability is 5.5% for 2020 multiplied by your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).

What if my Georgia income tax liability is less than the amount I donated to GaSSO? Do I lose that money?

No, you do not lose the money.  The tax credit is a “non-refundable” credit. That means that you cannot receive a refund for any more than your GA tax liability. Any excess credit beyond your tax liability can be carried forward for up to 5 years for individual, couples filing married joint and married separate.

Can I reduce my Georgia income tax withholdings so that I can recoup my funds instead of waiting until I file my taxes?

Yes. You can recoup your donation sooner by adjusting your state withholding amount from each paycheck until you recoup your donation amount.  Don’t forget to change it back.

I usually get a refund from the state of Georgia. What happens if I donate to GaSSO?

For taxpayers who donate to GaSSO as individuals, married filing separate, or married filing jointly, if your Georgia income tax liability is at least as much as your GaSSO donation, your refund will increase by the amount of your donation. If on the other hand, your state income tax liability is less than the amount of your donation to GaSSO, the amount of the unused credit can be carried forward for up to 5 years.

Will this trigger an audit of my return?

No. The credit is applied against your Georgia income tax liability, and is pre-approved by the state of Georgia.

Can I contribute the GaSSO program for a tax credit if I don't reside in the state of Georgia?

Yes. As long as you pay Georgia state income taxes you can contribute to the GaSSO program for a tax credit.

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