New York state’s 25 personal income tax (PIT) check-off funds that were eligible to receive contributions saw a slight decline in total donations, as well as in the number of contributions, in the 2019-20 state fiscal year (SFY), according to a report released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
A report issued by DiNapoli’s office in 2014 found that large amounts of money were being collected in various funds but not being spent on the intended purposes in a timely manner. The report released today found that 14 funds had higher balances than in the prior year and that several others had yet to spend any of their contributions. At the end of SFY 2019-20, the combined balances of these funds totaled more than $16.5 million in taxpayer contributions and related funds that had not yet been used for their intended purposes.
“New York taxpayers generously use tax-check offs to donate their money to help others,” DiNapoli said. “State agencies need to make sure the money gets put to work promptly for these worthy causes and provide the accountability that taxpayers rightly expect.”
New York taxpayers’ choices for making charitable donations through check-offs on their state PIT returns continue to grow. At the end of the 2019-20 state fiscal year, there were 28 check-off fund options, more than double the options five years earlier.
Of these 28 funds, 25 were eligible to receive donations during the fiscal year (others were not yet in effect). Although the number of check-offs has increased, total contributions have been relatively flat. Over the last 10 years, total annual contributions ranged from $1.8 million to nearly $2.3 million.
Key findings include:
- Taxpayer donations to the 25 state personal income tax check-off funds eligible to receive contributions in SFY 2019-20 totaled just over $2.2 million, down 2 percent from a year earlier, while the number of contributions declined by 9 percent.
- The Return a Gift to Wildlife Fund led in the number of contributions, with more than 16,000, while Breast Cancer Research received the largest amount of donations, nearly $300,000.
- The Breast Cancer Research Fund had the largest balance, more than $6.1 million, as well as the largest amount of disbursements during the fiscal year. The Prostate Cancer Research Fund had the second largest balance with $2.9 million, followed by the Organ Tissue and Donation Fund with $1.6 million and the Alzheimer’s Disease Support Services Fund with $1.4 million.
- Legislation enacted in 2015 and proposed by DiNapoli requires that tax check-off contributions be disbursed in the year they are received, to the extent practicable. State agencies need to do a better job in ensuring that donations are administered timely and effectively.
- For tax year 2019, six new tax check-off options were available; one went into effect in 2020 and two more will be effective this year.
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