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Chickadee tax check-off donations increased in 2019, but continues overall downward trend

  • 1/26/2021 12:08:00 PM
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Last year, a little over 7,200 Iowa taxpayers helped boost wildlife conservation with donations to the Fish and Wildlife Fund on their state tax form, representing about 0.5 percent of total taxpayers in Iowa.

“We are thankful for those who donated to wildlife conservation with their tax refunds as the funds go directly to habitat development and restoration programs for some of Iowa’s most vulnerable animal species,” said Stephanie Shepherd, wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Diversity program.

The Fish and Wildlife Fund, commonly known as the “Chickadee Check-off,” is a mechanism the Iowa Legislature created in the 1980s for Iowans to donate to wildlife conservation on the Iowa state income tax form. Before this time, so called “non-game” wildlife had no dedicated funding.

Non-game wildlife are the 1,000-plus species such as songbirds, bald eagles, salamanders, turtles, monarchs and bees and more that make up the majority of wildlife in Iowa. The Chickadee Check-off is one of the only funding sources for the Iowa DNR’s Wildlife Diversity program, which is responsible for these species. 

Funding helps to improve wildlife habit, restore native wildlife, provide opportunities for citizens to learn about Iowa’s natural resources and much more. Recent projects have been investigating the nesting success of barn owls and figuring out the status of the endangered rusty-patched bumblebee. 

Iowans donated a little under $150,000 on their 2019 tax forms, which translates to an average gift of $20.39 per donor, an increase from the previous year. Donations can be made in any amount starting at just $1.

“The tax check-off line is pretty inconspicuous and can be easily missed. Be sure to remind your tax preparer that they have a client wants to donate,” said Shepherd.

Once located, donating is easy: 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,” Shepherd said.