Monday, March 23, 2009

Tax Checkoff Helps Organ Donation Efforts

The deadline to file your Pennsylvania income tax return is less than a month away and several groups are hoping last minute filers will be in a charitable mood with their refunds. In 1994 the Pennsylvania Legislature created the Governor Robert Casey Memorial Organ and Tissue donation Awareness Trust Fund and then gave income tax filers the option to send all or a portion of their refund to the charity. It is now one of five options at the bottom of the PA-40 form. Leslie Best runs the fund. She is the director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Chronic Diseases. She says the funds raised do not go directly to transplanting organs. The funds are used to increase organ donations through awareness and education of the need for organ donors and the easy of becoming one when you renew your drivers licenses. Best says about 40-percent of Pennsylvanians with drivers licenses are signed up as organ donors. That number has been increasing in recent years. She says the educational efforts start in the grade schools and never stop. The fund also gives money to those making live organ donations to help defray travel costs. Best says to make sure the funds are spent wisely, they also have an advisory panel. The panel includes doctors, hospital officials, organ recipients and the families of those who have given organs. The PA 40 tax checkoff is the only revenue source for the organ and tissue donation and recover fund. Last year the support totaled $27,500. While most filers who fill out their own tax forms notice the 5 checkoff options, Best encourages those who use preparers to ask them to take advantage of those options on their behalf.

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