By: Jenasa Staples, Staff Writer
Students or employees that have received or will be receiving a degree in Maine, may qualify for a tax credit. In 2008 the Educational Opportunity Tax Credit (EOTC) was created by the coalition Opportunity Maine to help Maine students, residents, and employees receive tax benefits to go towards student loans.
To qualify for EOTC it is required that graduation from a Maine college was present after 2008. For people that have graduated in-between 2008 and 2012 they are required to be a Maine resident, have a Maine employer, and have graduated with their associates or bachelor’s degree from a Maine college. People that graduated in 2013 and 2014 have the same requirements from the prior years but if they moved to Maine before 2012 they can use up to 30 credits from an out of state college and they can also be deployed out of Maine for military services. All of the requirements stay the same for people that graduated in 2015 but they are allowed to have an employer that is out of state as long as the Maine resident works in the state.
The most current requirements will impact recent and soon to be graduates. People that have graduated in 2016 or after have the same requirements previously mentioned. However, they can also have earned an accredited bachelor’s degree anywhere in the United States or a graduate degree from a Maine college as long as it was after the year 2015.
Everyone who qualifies for EOTC will receive a tax credit that offsets the taxes owed to the state of Maine. It will be determined by the year graduated, major, and degree held to identify if the remaining money from the tax credit is refundable or not. If it is refundable then a check will be mailed to residents door. If it is non-refundable then the credit will be added to the next years taxes for up to ten years. The goal of the EOTC is for Mainer’s to be able to pay off their student loans within ten years.
Andrew Bossie, a former USM student, helped establish the EOTC in 2007. His inspiration came from being the oldest of four children and witnessing his sister opting out of going to college because she couldn’t pay for it. He also found inspiration from other students on campus struggling financially. The idea for EOTC was thought of over dinner with a few campus leaders. They were discussing how if the ballot initiative process can be used for negative changes then maybe they can use it to make a positive change. Bossie says “That was the moment the idea for EOTC was born.” During this time Bossie was hearing a lot about “brain drain” which means students were receiving their degree then leaving Maine for better financial opportunity in different states. Department of Administration and Financial Services reported in 2016 saying there were over 138,000 more people over the age of forty than there were under forty. Many of these older people are retired or will be retiring, leaving many jobs open. Bossie says EOTC is meant to help Maine students as well as encourage them to stay in Maine and potentially attract people to Maine.
Applying for EOTC requires completing a document and filing it when submitting Maine income tax return. The document can be found on the website liveandworkinmaine.com.