Jerry Brown Says: Save California’s Sea Otters, One Tax Check-off At a Time
If they are generous enough, taxpayers will be able to keep helping California sea otters for another five years through voluntary contributions under a new law signed Sept. 1 by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The tax check-off, one of 15 on Page 3 of the Franchise Tax Board’s Form 540, automatically expired January 1 under the terms of the legislation creating it in 2006.
Check-offs on the tax form are limited to 15 total and most must meet minimum levels of contributions to keep their place.
This year, four new check-offs appeared on the tax form after a like number expired or failed to meet the annual minimum.
The new ones benefit the California Arts Council, the California Police Activities League, California Veterans Homes and publicizing the ability of new parents to safely surrender unwanted infants.
The Sea Otter Fund must receive contributions totaling more than $260,890 to stay on the form.
There are less than 3,000 sea otters in California thanks to a variety of “stressors,” according to the bill re-establishing the check-off – AB 971 by Assemblyman Bill Monning, a Santa Cruz Democrat. (Stressors apparently being well higher on the food chain than sharks.)
“Given the recent information that the sea otter population remains in trouble, it is important that we extend the tax check-off option … for taxpayers to be able to voluntarily assist the state in helping to protect them,” Monning said in a statement urging passage of his measure which is co-sponsored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Defenders of Wildlife.
The check-off, which in five tax years has raised $1.3 million to help study what is driving down the sea otter population, will stay in place until January 1, 2016 or until it fails to reach the minimum threshold.
Another seven tax check-off measures have been introduced in the Legislature. Two would reinstate check-offs that failed to meet contribution minimums: the ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease Research fund and the Municipal Shelter Spay-Neuter Fund.
The Democratic governor’s position on the other measures is unknown.
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