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Chickadee tax check-off donations continues downward trend in 2018

  • 1/21/2020 2:07:00 PM
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Last year, more than 7,200 Iowa taxpayers helped boost wildlife conservation with donations to the Fish and Wildlife Fund on their state tax form, which is roughly 300 fewer donors than in 2017. Donors represent about 0.5 percent of total tax payers in Iowa.

“We are so thankful to all the people who choose to donate to wildlife conservation with their tax refunds,” said Stephanie Shepherd, wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Diversity Program. “Those contributions go directly to habitat development and restoration programs that are so important for natural resources and for some of Iowa’s most vulnerable animal species.”

The Fish and Wildlife Fund, known popularly as the “Chickadee Check-off,” is a mechanism the Iowa Legislature created in the 1980s for Iowa citizens to donate to wildlife conservation on the Iowa state tax form. Before this time, so called “non-game” wildlife had no dedicated funding.  Non-game wildlife is the more than 1,000 species of songbirds, bald eagles, salamanders, turtles, monarchs and bees and more that make up the majority of wildlife in Iowa. 

It is one of the only funding sources for the Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Diversity Program which is responsible for all these species.  Those funds help improve wildlife habit, restore native wildlife, provide opportunities for citizens to learn about our natural resources and much more.

Iowans donated roughly $140,000 last spring when completing their 2018 tax forms which is a little more than $8,000 less than the previous two years. This translates to an average gift of $19.24 per donor.

“The tax check-off line is pretty inconspicuous and can be easy to miss. Many tax preparers may not remember to ask whether a client wants to donate,” said Shepherd. “It may be up to the taxpayer to remind their preparer, or make a point of looking for it whether they are doing their form on paper or electronically.”

Once you find the check-off, donating is easy, according to Shepherd: simply write the amount to donate next to the Fish and Wildlife Check-Off, line 57 on Form 1040, and the sum is either automatically deducted from the refund or added to the amount owed.

“If every Iowa taxpayer donated just $1, it would mean $1.5 million for wildlife and natural resource conservation!” said Shepherd.