SB 503 Passes Governance and Finance with Critical Amendment for State Program

Amendment Would Preserve 12 Important Tax Check-Off Programs

Thursday, May 18 2017

Sacramento, CA – Senate Bill (SB) 503, authored by Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), unanimously passed the Senate Governance and Finance committee today with a critical amendment. The amendment would waive the required minimum contribution for one year for a dozen tax check-off programs, to ensure these programs appear on taxpayer’s 2017 returns.

“As Senate Bill 503 moved through the legislative process I was made aware that the “Keep Arts in Schools” fund, along with eleven similar funds, was at risk of not meeting minimum funding requirements, due to issues outside of their control,” said Newman. “These very worthy programs deserve to be visible and easy for taxpayers to select when preparing their returns. A minimum funding requirement of zero would allow the programs to benefit equally from taxpayer contributions moving forward.”

This year, a popular tax preparation service made changes to its software program which changed the way voluntary contribution funds were presented to taxpayers. As a result, many of these programs have seen a sharp decrease in donations which will put them below the threshold necessary to retain their current status as a tax check-off. 

The programs in jeopardy are:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease/Related Disorders Fund
  • Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program
  • California Breast Cancer Research Fund
  • Emergency Food for Families Fund
  • California Sea Otter Fund
  • California Cancer Research Fund
  • School Supplies for Homeless Children Fund
  • State Parks Protection Fund/Parks Pass Purchase
  • Protect Our Coast and Oceans Fund
  • Keep Arts in Schools Fund
  • State Children’s Trust Fund for the Prevention of Child Abuse
  • Prevention of Animal Homelessness and Cruelty Fund

SB 503 as amended would extend the sunset date for the “Keep Arts in Schools” fund to 2025 and would now also set the minimum funding requirement for these 12 programs to zero for one year, in order to give online tax preparation services the opportunity to update their software for tax filings in 2018. Since its inception, the “Keep Arts in Schools” fund has generated over one million dollars to advance the arts in the State of California.  There are currently 20 check-offs listed on the California tax return form, which raise between four and five million dollars annually.

Senator Josh Newman represents the 29th Senate District, which includes cities across Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino Counties.