Michigan bills would let residents donate tax returns to teachers

Michigan residents would have the option to donate part of their tax return to a fund for school teachers under new bills in the state legislature.

House Bills 5165 and 5166, introduced by Reps. Brad Paquette, R-Niles, and Nate Shannon, D-Sterling Heights, would create the Made a Difference Teacher Fund, and allow Michigan taxpayers to voluntarily donate some or all of their state tax returns to the fund.

The fund would be distributed in $1,000 increments to current and retired Michigan teachers, whom residents could nominate to receive the fund.

Paquette and Shannon – both former teachers – said if enacted, the fund could be a little extra boost for teachers who have made a difference in their students’ lives, and a way for students to honor their favorite teacher.

Paquette said the idea came from a conversation with one of his constituents, who brought up the question, “How do you ensure teachers know they’ve made a difference in young people’s lives?”

“This would let teachers know they did make a difference,” Paquette said. “A lot of teachers get burnt out. They need to know that what they do means the world to those young people.”

Under the legislation, nominations for possible recipients of the fund would be directed to the state treasury, who would then verify the nominee was certified to teach in the state of Michigan. Retired teachers would also be eligible.

Shannon said there are lots of causes people can donate their tax returns to – he’s hoping the public can get behind honoring rewarding the state’s best teachers for the work they do.

“The invaluable contributions teachers make to our communities can never be truly quantified, but this fund can serve as a small token of our appreciation,” he said.

The bills are expected to be formally introduced on the House floor next week, and would need to get approval from the House, Senate and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to become law.

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