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Tax-form gift boxes go empty
Charities: Fewer filers making donations
Lowest total raised in years, records show.

By Nolan Clay Modified: July 7, 2008 at 12:00 am •  Published: July 7, 2008

/> For the first few years, the wildlife fund was the only cause taxpayers could donate to through their tax returns. Legislators gradually added others — mostly in the last decade. On 2006 state tax forms, there were 18 causes.

Officials at the Oklahoma Tax Commission said some of the donation drop-off may be because the checkoff boxes are no longer on the actual return.

Officials explained there are just too many to list on the actual return. Instead, the boxes are now on a separate schedule.

Taxpayers may overlook that tax schedule when completing their returns, said Paula Ross, a Tax Commission spokeswoman.

Also, in past years, the Tax Commission puts ads in the tax instructions reminding taxpayers they could donate part of their refunds.

"Now, they're so numerous, to be fair, we don't pick out any to put ads regarding,” Ross said.

Which groups saw a drop-off?
•Donations to the wildlife program from tax refunds fell to $19,231 in the latest fiscal year. That's the lowest total for that program. The high was in the 1980s when taxpayers one year gave $213,840. The wildlife program was the only option that year.

•Donations from tax refunds to another long-standing fund also dropped last fiscal year to its lowest total. Only $14,369 was collected for a fund that helps provide medical and dental care for needy children and families.

•Donations from Oklahoma tax forms reached a high of $247,314 four years ago. Donations have dropped steadily each year since.

•Taxpayers gave $32,468 from their refunds to a fund benefiting the Oklahoma City bombing memorial the first year the fund's checkoff box was on tax forms. Donations dropped off so dramatically that its box was removed from the 2007 tax forms.

•Checkoff box donations to a fund to fight breast and cervical cancer last fiscal year totaled $20,224, a third of what was collected seven years ago.

Source: Tax Commission records


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