Tax Free Savings Accounts For Education

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A proposal that would let parents create tax-free savings accounts for education expenses, including private schools, was introduced Wednesday.

The bill was offered by Sens. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J. and Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark. It would expand an existing program that allows contributions of $500, but only for college students. The proposal is much like one the Senate passed by a 61-37 vote last year. At that time, President Clinton was staunchly opposed to the accounts and twice vetoed bills that contained them. President Bush supports the savings accounts.

Torricelli and Hutchinson called the accounts a way for all families to invest in their children's education and rejected past complaints that the proposal would benefit only the wealthy.

Many Democrats and teachers' unions have complained that the savings accounts are akin to previously defeated proposals to give parents government vouchers to use to send their children to private schools.

The proposal would increase the contribution level from the current $500 to $2,000 and allow the tax-free earnings to be used for expenses, including transportation and tutors, associated with any school from kindergarten through 12th grade _ public, private or parochial.