Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship Program

Updated December 11, 2017

The Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship Program: What We Know

The new Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship Program allows individuals and corporations to donate to a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) and receive a credit on their Illinois state taxes in return. An SGO is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, approved by the IL Department of Revenue, whose primary aim is to give scholarships to qualifying students.

The SGO that the Archdiocese of Chicago has recommended our families and benefactors work with is Empower Illinois. Their website is Through this website Families and Donors can get important information on taking advantage of this opportunity.

A full Q&A for this program can be found by clicking here.

Below are some of the most common questions being asked at this time.

Who qualifies for these scholarships?

Students whose families earn 300% of the federal poverty level or less ($73,800 for a family of four) qualify, and priority is given to students who are members of a household whose previous year’s total annual income does not exceed 185% of the federal poverty level ($45,510 for a family of four).

As this is the first time Illinois has had a program such as this, there are many unknowns as far as how many Saint Viator High School students will apply and be awarded this Tax Credit Scholarship. Saint Viator is reviewing and updating our registration and financial aid policies to encourage as many students as possible to apply for the Tax Credit Scholarship Program.

Prospective Family Timeline for Applying

After donations are received in January, Empower Illinois will begin accepting student scholarship applications. The prospective date to apply for one of these scholarships currently is January 24, 2018. Families should be prepared with the following documentation when applying:

  • Copy of 2016 federal tax return, 1099, W-2, or year-end pay stubs
  • Verification of Illinois residence (utility bill, driver’s license etc.)
  • Student’s prior semester report card
  • If available, letter of acceptance or enrollment at an eligible school

Prospective families can click this link to get more updated information from Empower Illinois.

What is the benefit to a donor?

An individual or corporation will receive a 75% credit on their donation to an SGO. This means that if a donor donates $10,000, they will receive a state tax credit of $7,500.

Tax credits by both individual and corporate donors are capped at $1 million.

Individual donors can direct their donations to Saint Viator through the SGO.

Corporate donors cannot designate their donation to any particular school.

Donors are prohibited from receiving a federal tax deduction for these donations.

As a donor, what is the process?

Beginning on January 2, 2018, individual and corporate donors will be able to reserve tax credits through the My Tax Illinois website. The Illinois Department of Revenue is advising that you set up an account on the My Tax Illinois website as soon as possible if you do not already have one; it can take up to two weeks to get the account activated, so do NOT wait to try to set up an account. (Please click on this link for simple directions on how to set up your My Tax Illinois account). Based on the experience of similar programs in other states, the tax credits are claimed very quickly, in some instances within minutes. We recommend you plan on making your tax credit reservation as early as possible on January 2, 2018.

After a donor reserves their tax credit, they will have 60 days to donate the amount they reserved to the SGO of their choice. (As mentioned above the Archdiocese of Chicago is recommending Saint Viator High School donors work with Empower Illinois) For individuals, you may request to the SGO that your contribution be directed to Saint Viator High School.

After donating, the donor will receive a certificate of receipt from the SGO indicating a donation was made. The SGO will notify the IL Department of Revenue that a donation was made.

If a donor does not donate or gives less than they indicated to the IL Department of Revenue, they will not receive ANY tax credit.

The Illinois Department of Revenue has updated their website with additional information on this program. For more details, see

Donor Summary – Current Timeline

Dec. 1 – Dec. 20: Interested donors should register with

Dec. 11: Phase I online portal available with program and process details at Empower Illinois’ web portal

Jan. 2: Donors can reserve tax credits at It is advised that interested donors go to this website as available tax credits are expected to go very quickly.

Early January: Phase II online portal available with donor processing functionality at Empower Illinois’ web portal