On Form 511-G, Oklahoma taxpayers due refunds can donate a portion to any of about a dozen more or less charitable organizations, including the Oklahoma Pet Overpopulation Fund and a Low Income Health Care Fund. Other states have similar programs, though Illinois does it differently: they don’t actually hand the money over to the intended organizations. Instead, they use it to pay current bills:
Illinoisans donated almost $45,000 on their 2009 state income tax returns to crisis nurseries in Illinois, part of a checkoff system designed to help charitable causes.
None of that money has reached the Crisis Nursery of Champaign County or any other nursery across the state.
Instead, the money is being used to pay other state bills, at least temporarily.
In all, state officials have borrowed $1.176 million in fiscal 2011 from 11 tax checkoff funds, according to figures provided by the Office of Management and Budget.
The state swears it will make good:
[T]he money borrowed in fiscal 2011 by law has to be returned, plus interest, within 18 months, said Kelly Kraft, spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget.
Still, if word of this gets around, a lot of people will be reacting the way Marcel did:
I’ve never done that, because I didn’t trust the state. Turns out mistrust was justified.
All the more reason to spread the word, I think.