Tax checkoff benefits local organizations |

Tax checkoff benefits local organizations

With a quick check mark, Colorado taxpayers can actually feel good about completing their taxes this year.

And even better, local taxpayers can be assured that their contributions go to local nonprofit organizations.

Checkoff Colorado is a statewide public awareness campaign that allows taxpayers to make donations directly on their state income tax forms.

“It’s much easier to donate this way, because you don’t miss the money,” said Leslie Rockey, executive director of Colorado Animal Rescue, whose organization receives funds through the program.

Ten statewide organizations are currently part of the checkoff program. Each of those organizations give contributions to local subsidiaries, when possible. Taxpayers can choose to give to one or more organizations.

Jon Pushkin of Checkoff Colorado said the program raised nearly $1.5 million total in 2003.

“The program was actually down from the year before, mainly because of the economy,” Pushkin said. In 2002, the program generated almost $1.9 million.

“We’re encouraging more people to give,” Pushkin said, which includes providing information to tax accountants to remind their clients of the program.

Local nonprofits benefit

Five organizations that serve the Garfield County region receive funds from Checkoff Colorado: the Colorado Department of Wildlife’s Colorado Non-Game and Endangered Wildlife Fund, Advocate Safehouse Project, Colorado Animal Rescue, Family Resource Centers and the Roaring Fork Conservancy.

Pat Tucker, area wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife in Glenwood Springs, said the DOW’s fund was the very first listed on state income tax forms when Checkoff Colorado began in 1977.

Money raised through the wildlife fund gets divided up and distributed to Colorado DOW offices throughout the state ” including the Glenwood Springs region.

Tucker said donations through Checkoff Colorado have helped remove three species from the endangered species list that are indigenous to the region: the bald eagle, the river otter and the peregrine falcon.

“Initially, a lot of money and resources from Checkoff Colorado went towards recovering those animals,” said Tucker. “Now all three are off the endangered list, and regionally, we see more peregrine falcons and bald eagles now than we used to, and more river otters in the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers.”

More money to serve

more women

According to Pushkin, Glenwood Springs’ Advocate Safehouse Project receives funding through the Domestic Abuse Program Fund, which helps support community-based domestic abuse programs across Colorado.

Pushkin said, like other abuse programs in the state, the Advocate Safehouse Project provides 24-hour crisis line response, emergency shelter, counseling and advocacy services for victims of domestic abuse and their children.

Money raised from Checkoff Colorado specifically “pays for more nights at more shelters,” Pushkin said. “These shelters fill quickly, so the domestic abuse fund gets more money to these facilities for more space and more staff so that more women can be served.”

From CARE to Conservancy

Colorado Animal Rescue receives its Checkoff Colorado funds through the Pet Overpopulation Fund, which sponsors spay and neuter programs throughout the state.

Pushkin said the Pet Overpopulation Fund received $187,000 statewide as of June 2003.

Rockey said out of those funds, the Spring Valley-based animal shelter received $5,000 for spay and neutering programs from Aspen to Parachute.

Glenwood Springs-based Family Resource Centers receive funding from Checkoff Colorado through the Family Resource Centers Fund, which supports more than 70,000 people in 39 Colorado counties. Like other resource centers statewide, the valley’s resource centers promote early childhood education, youth activities and parenting classes.

And the Roaring Fork Conservancy based in Basalt receives funding through the Colorado Watershed Protection Fund, which serves locally-based watershed groups throughout the state in protection efforts.

Statewide groups also benefit

Although the five other Colorado organizations included in Checkoff Colorado do not, as yet, have local groups directly connected, they serve other Colorado nonprofits, including the Colorado Court Appointed Special Advocates Fund, Colorado Homeless Prevention Activities Fund, Special Olympics Colorado Fund, U.S. Olympics Fund and the Western Colorado State Veterans Cemetery Fund.

Each organization listed on the Colorado Tax checkoff must complete a rigorous review process and be approved by the Colorado Legislature.

Colorado was the first state in the country to create a way for taxpayers to make voluntary contributions to nonprofit organizations on state income tax forms. Now, 41 states have similar tax form checkoffs that benefit 220 programs.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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