Frequently Asked Questions
How Minnesota Afterschool Advance Works
This seems like too good of a deal to be true. What’s the catch?
There is no catch. The Minnesota K-12 Education Credit (“Tax Credit”) was created by the State Legislature in 1997. To help families utilize the Tax Credit, the Minnesota Department of Revenue created the process Minnesota Afterschool Advance (MAA) uses to loan the amount of the Tax Credit to families and have the families assign the credit to MAA so it gets repaid when the family files their taxes. And thanks to the generosity of donors, MAA is able to make the loans to families without charging any interest or fees. Our goal is to make the process as simple, clear, and straightforward as possible.
Where does MAA get the money that it uses for its 75% contribution?
MAA’s donors have created a pool of money that it uses to make no-interest, no-fee loans to the families. When an eligible family applies, MAA makes a loan to that family. As part of the loan, the family assigns (legally gives the right to) the money from the Tax Credit that it would normally get in its tax refund to MAA. As a result, MAA gives the family the dollars right away to spend on afterschool activities and gets repaid directly from the Minnesota Department of Revenue when the family files its tax return.
So this is really a loan? Do I have to pay it back?
The short answer is yes. MAA’s contribution is a no-interest, no-fee loan to the family. When applying, the family signs paperwork to have the Minnesota Department of Revenue repay the loan to MAA directly when the family files their taxes. As a result, if the family files their taxes correctly and is eligible for the Tax Credit, they never have to pay back MAA out of pocket. If for some reason the family is not eligible for the Tax Credit in a given year or their Tax Credit is diverted to pay for other government debts or obligations, the assignment with the Department of Revenue remains active and MAA is repaid out of any tax refund the family receives until the amount of the loan is repaid.
I am a parent/guardian with multiple children. How many children can I enroll each year?
You may enroll as many children as you have in your family who are in grades K-12 in the current year and attend public or private school or are homeschooled. Visit the eligibility and expectations page for additional eligibility criteria. You will receive up to $1,000 from MAA for each eligible child who participates in one of the current program offerings.
Benefits of MAA
What’s the benefit of participating in MAA? Why not just file for the Tax Credit on my own?
Families are welcome to file for the Tax Credit on their own and receive the Tax Credit directly. However, this requires the families to pay the full cost of the afterschool activities up front. Many families do not have the cash to make large payments up front and wait for the reimbursement after they file their taxes. Participating in MAA allows you to pay only 25% up front and not worry about waiting to get your tax refund to get the other 75% back.
Required Family Contribution
Why do you ask for a 25% family contribution from me when I select an activity?
The Tax Credit will only cover 75% of the expenses for the afterschool programs. The 25% covers the part the family is responsible for. To make the program easier to administer, we have the family pay the required family contribution into the same account as MAA’s contribution, and MAA pays the service provider directly for the activities.
Is there really no cost to the family beyond the family contribution?
No. Our donors allow us to advance up to $1,000 per child without any fees or interest payments. Our donors want families to be able to access these important afterschool programs and these government dollars they’re entitled to. However, if the activity you select has expenses that are not eligible for the Tax Credit, you will be responsible for those expenses (they are clearly noted when selecting an activity). Also, depending on the type of payment method you select, there may be a small payment processing fee to offset merchant fees.
What services can my child access through MAA?
We currently have a wide variety of activities available in Northfield, and we plan to expand to additional communities in Minnesota throughout 2019. See the current program offerings.
What happens if my child does not participate in the full activity?
Unfortunately, we are not able to issue refunds once you register in and pay for an activity through MAA.
Completion of the Tax Forms
What support does MAA provide for completing my tax forms correctly?
MAA will share information about free tax preparation assistance with families who are accepted into its program to make sure they complete their tax forms correctly to be eligible for the Tax Credit. This information will be provided at the end of each year prior to tax season.
What happens if I do not complete my tax forms as expected?
Any contribution from MAA is a loan to you based on the expectation that you will receive the Tax Credit and those funds will be used to repay the MAA. If you do not complete your tax forms as expected and do not receive the Tax Credit, the assignment will remain active with the Department of Revenue and MAA will be repaid from any future tax refunds you receive.
What happens if my household’s income in the current tax year ends up being higher than the eligibility requirements for the Tax Credit?
To be eligible for the full Tax Credit, your household income must be $33,500 or less in the current tax year (see details for calculating your household income). If your household income is above $33,500, you may be eligible for a partial tax credit. If your household income ends up being higher than the eligibility requirements for the full Tax Credit, the assignment will remain active with the Department of Revenue and MAA will be repaid from any tax refunds you receive this year or in future years until the loan is repaid.
What happens if I get a divorce this year?
Only one of you may claim the Tax Credit. The two of you must decide who will claim the credit. If the two of you cannot decide, the federal “tie-breaker” rule applies. Whoever claims the Tax Credit may only use the expenses they actually paid. You may not claim expenses the other person paid, and they may not claim expenses you paid. If you get divorced after the loan is issued and both individuals signed on the loan and assignment documents, both individuals will continue to be responsible for the loan.