The Governor signed HB 16-1297 on April 14. Thanks to Rep. Lois Court (D-Denver) and Sen. Beth Martinez-Humenik (R-Thornton) for sponsoring this bill! HB 16-1297 provides more opportunities for nonprofits to participate in the tax checkoff program, makes it more likely that funds will meet their revenue goals, and levels the playing field for funds seeking re-establishment.
In 1977, Colorado became the first state to allow taxpayers to donate their refunds directly to select charities or public benefit programs via their tax returns. This innovation has encouraged donors to increase their annual charitable giving and helped nonprofits connect with donors they may not reach otherwise.
Nearly forty years later, Colorado’s taxpayers can choose to give to up to fifteen different "tax checkoff" funds. Typically, the General Assembly authorizes or renews funds for a five year period. After a two year grace period, a new checkoff must raise at least $75,000 each year thereafter to remain on the form. If all fifteen lines are taken, a new fund is placed in a queue until a line is available. Bills signed first in time are also first in the order of the queue.
Despite a recovering economy, the number of donations to checkoff funds dropped by over 33,000 (28%) and the amount of donations dropped by over $378,000 (25%) from 2014. Six funds did not raise $75,000 by Oct. 2015 and were dropped from the form. All five funds in the queue have been added to the form for 2016; leaving one vacant line on the form.
About HB 16-1297
HB 16-1297 strengthens the tax checkoff program and addresses the drop in donations as follows:
1) Expands the number of eligible funds to twenty. With this change, more charities and public benefit programs have the opportunity to participate in the program without a significant increase in cost to the state.
2) Reduces the revenue threshold to $50,000. By decreasing the threshold, checkoff funds are more likely to surpass the threshold despite increased competition for donations and economic fluctuations.
3) Restores the six checkoff funds that fell off the form in 2015. HB 16-1297 levels the playing field between groups running bills this year to re-establish their tax checkoffs and those who haven’t run bills yet. All these checkoff funds would be restored at the same time for 2017.