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Johnson & Burzichelli Bill to Encourage Online Donations to Beneficial Programs in New Jersey Approved by Assembly

Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Gordon Johnson and John Burzichelli to encourage online donations to many of the beneficial programs intrinsically linked to New Jersey was approved Thursday by the full Assembly by a vote of 66-10-3.

The bill (A-2351) would provide easy, online access to the special funds listed on New Jersey’s gross income tax return forms.

“In this day and age, it’s just common sense to let people donate online and not just on their tax returns,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “If we can provide residents with the knowledge and access to lend a helping hand, I have no doubt that we can increase support for many of New Jersey’s worthwhile programs.”

Currently, only the New Jersey Children’s Trust Fund to Prevent Child Abuse, one of a handful of specific tax check-off items listed on New Jersey’s gross income tax return, allows for online donations.

This bill would require the state to create a separate online donation form for any of the special funds designated under current law, including the NJ Endangered Wildlife Fund, the NJ Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Fund, the NJ Breast Cancer Research Fund, the state’s Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Program, and the U.S.S. New Jersey Educational Museum Fund.

“With more and more people filing their taxes online, it’s important that we take advantage of these tools to promote the many worthwhile programs closely associated with our state, which are in need of support,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “Online donations are practical, and will make it a lot easier for residents to step up to the plate to help these programs, particularly in a down economy.”

According to a recent report from the Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, total charitable contributions nationwide declined for the first time since 1987, down 3.6 percent in 2009. It was also just the second decline in contributions since the foundation began publishing annual reports in 1956.

Roughly 50 to 60 percent of organizations that provided data to the Giving USA Foundation reported lower gift receipts in 2009 than in 2008. Hit particularly hard were charities that promote education and the arts, which suffered two consecutive years of decline. They lost 8.8 percent and 8.7 percent of donations, respectively, between 2007 and 2009.

The bill now awaits consideration by the Senate.