Checkoff Colorado: Contributing to causes through tax returns


It’s tax season. Taxes are due on April 17 this year.

The normal date of April 15 falls on a Sunday, but since Emancipation day is April 16 and a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and is observed on that Monday, that pushes the nation’s filing deadline to April 17. Under the tax law, legal holidays in the District of Columbia affect the filing deadline across the nation, so you get one more day to file your taxes.

Checkoff Colorado is a statewide, grassroots public awareness campaign focused on educating taxpayers and tax preparers about check-off giving — a program that allows taxpayers to make voluntary contributions to their favorite charitable organizations when they file their state income tax return.

In 1977, Colorado became the first state in the country to allow a taxpayer to “check-off” a voluntary contribution to a state program. Now almost every state in the country has a checkoff program. In 2003, the funds that were part of the Colorado checkoff program decided to band together to make a bigger impact. Colorado was the first state to have a collaborative campaign like this.

The goals of the Checkoff Colorado program are simple: to increase the number of taxpayers making donations and to boost the total amount that taxpayers contribute each year.

Since the tax checkoff program was established in 1977, well over $45 million has been donated for the 31 organizations that have appeared on Colorado’s income tax form since the program’s inception. Nearly $1.8 million was raised in 2017 alone. The average checkoff donation is $10. The typical taxpayer gives to three funds.

This year, 11 funds are participating in Checkoff Colorado, the collaborative public awareness campaign. I want to highlight three funds that are relevant to Extension.

Healthy landscapes. The health and beauty of our landscapes defines our lifestyles as Coloradans. The Healthy Landscapes Initiative promotes sustainable management and healthy relationships with our lakes, rivers, peaks and high deserts. Stewardship efforts support education, wildlife habitats, agricultural diversity, research and invasive species management.

Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund. This fund grants money to on-the-ground projects that contribute to cleaner water, healthier wildlife habitat and improved recreation throughout our State. The Colorado Healthy Rivers Fund has granted funding for more than 80 projects statewide.

Unwanted Horse Fund. It can be difficult to imagine why horses would be abandoned, left to fend for themselves along roadsides, in barren fields and in desolate areas. Yet, horse abandonment happens every day. Because of this, the Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance works in collaboration with equine organizations, horse rescues, veterinarians and state agencies to raise awareness about unwanted horses and the importance of responsible horse ownership. They promote research to better understand the scope of the unwanted horse problem, and we provide financial support to organizations to help them feed, shelter, care for, and train abandoned horses and improve their chances of being adopted.

Other participants in this program are:

• Colorado Nongame Conservation and Wildlife Restoration Cash Fund.

• Homeless Prevention Activities Program Fund.

• Pet Overpopulation Fund.

• Military Family Relief Fund.

• Habitat for Humanity of Colorado Fund.

• Special Olympics of Colorado Fund.

• Colorado Cancer Fund.

• Urban Peak and Support Services for Youth Experiencing Homelessness Fund.

Each of the nonprofit organizations that are eligible for checkoff contributions undergoes a rigorous review by the Colorado Legislature in order to even be considered to be on the tax form.

Donations can be made to any of the organizations listed on the 2017 Colorado tax return and typically come from a taxpayer’s refund. However, a donation can still be made if money is owed on your taxes. Donations are collected by the Colorado Department of Revenue and then distributed to each fund. Funds use the donations to help communities all across the state.

The great part about Checkoff Colorado is that every single dollar donated goes to the nonprofit and every single dollar stays in Colorado.

Fire mitigation deduction, wildfire presentation

Did you know that if you did fire mitigation work on your property, you can qualify for a tax deduction?

If you are a full-time resident or received income from sources in Colorado that require you to file a state income tax form, you can enter 50 percent of your 2013 expenses for mitigation on your form 104. The maximum amount you can claim is $2,500. You must own the property that was mitigated and submit receipts for any expenses or contracted work. You can submit receipts using Revenue Online or by attaching them to your paper return.

For more information, read publication “FYI Income 65” available at

If you are interested in cost-share programs for fire mitigation, please contact Bill Trimarco at

There will be a presentation on March 20 on the Science of Smoke from Wildfires at the Extension office at 6 p.m. It is free and is hosted by the San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Firewise and the Colorado State University (CSU) Extension office.

CPR and first aid classes

CPR and first aid certification classes are now being offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 pm. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931.

We will also attempt to schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations. Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. The type of first aid information provided will vary by the needs of the audience.

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