The "Chickadee Check-off" or Fish/Wildlife Fund

Chickadee Check-offIowa's General Assembly enacted the "Chickadee Check-off" in 1981, as a means of providing more substantial funding to aid all wildlife in Iowa, but especially nongame species. It was this new funding source that actually cleared the way for establishing a nongame wildlife program in Iowa, today called the Wildlife Diversity Program. The check-off has provided Iowans an opportunity to voluntarily donate a self-designated portion of their Iowa tax refund when completing their Iowa form 1040s. If tax payments are still due the state, filers may even add a donation amount to their outstanding tax bill, if they desire.

Although still generally called the Chickadee Check-off, today's Iowa 1040 just refers to the term " Fish/Wildlife" fund on a line near the end of the tax form (Contributions section around lines 55-60). Even though tax form terminology has changed, contributions made on this line still are credited to the special Wildlife Diversity Program account and are used to further conservation of wildlife that cannot be hunted fished or trapped. 

What kind of projects does a donation to the fish/wildlife fund help support?

  • 5 full-time staff members in the Wildlife Diversity Program dedicated to Iowa's Wildlife
  • Restoration of previously lost Iowa Wildlife such as: Peregrine Falcons, Ospreys, Trumpeter Swans, and Prairie Chickens
  • Educational Wildlife Appreciation events held all over the state such as: Bald Eagle Watch Days, Pelican Fest, Prairie Chicken Day
  • Designation of Bird Conservation Areas in key areas around the state supporting increased habitat for all types of birds
  • Multiple research projects on Birds, Butterflies, Bobcats, Fish, Amphibian and Reptiles.
  • Population monitoring of species status and populations through research projects and volunteer surveys such as: Multi-Species Inventory and Monitoring, Breeding Bird Atlas, Breeding Bird Survey, Bald Eagle Midwinter Survey, Frog and Toad Call Survey, Raptor Nest and Colonial Waterbird Colony monitoring.
  • Acquisition of important lands for public use in wildlife watching, hunting, hiking, and fishing
  • Technical Guidance provided on land management for wildlife species.
  • And many other things.

How Can You Donate?

Making a donation is very easy. The contribution line for the check-offs is in section 9 "Tax Credits and Check off Contributions" usually around line 57 of Iowa's state 1040 long tax form.  It is listed as the Fish and Wildlife fund and is always the first check-off to be listed. Simply fill out the amount you would like to donate in the space next to the fish/wildlife fund. If you are owed a refund, the amount of your donation will be automatically deducted from your refund. If you owe taxes back, simply add the amount of your donation to the check you send in to the Department of Revenue. Every penny of your donation is then pulled out and given to the Wildlife Diversity Program - there are no administrative or processing expenses removed from your donation. The donation is also tax deductible on the following year's tax form just like any other charitable giving. Also, if you'd like, you may give to more than one of the check-offs.

For official instructions and descriptions of all the tax check-offs please visit the Iowa Department of Revenue's website. You may also download a state tax form from their site.

What's the Financial Status of the Chickadee Check-off Fund?

The revenue from the chickadee check-off has exhibited an overall downward trend since 2001. Iowans donated $132,000 last spring when completing their 2015 tax forms. At its height, Iowans donated more than $200,000 annually to the fund. 


How Else Can You Help?
Spread the word! The more people that are aware of the check-off, the more people will donate. If you are a tax-preparer or even own another type of business we have bookmarks and posters that you can make available to your clients. If you'd like to order some (free of charge) please contact Stephanie Shepherd, 515-432-2823 x 102. This year's new poster is the Backyard Butterflies of Iowa.