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Iowa'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 the spirit moves them.
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. Even though tax form terminology has changed, contributions made on this line still are credited to the special WDP account and are used to further conservation of nongame wildlife.
What kind of projects does a donation to the fish/wildlife fund help support?
How Can You Donate?
Making a donation is very easy. The contribution line for the check-offs is under contributions on line 58 of Iowa's state 1040 long tax form and around line 13 on Iowa's 1040a short 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 years 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 2011 tax forms. At its height, Iowans donated more than $200,000 annually to the fund.