Originally Published: December 29, 2016 5:55 a.m.
Want a choice in where your Arizona income tax is spent? Consider contributing to one or more qualifying charitable organizations (QCO).
Then, when it comes time to file (and pay) 2016 state income tax, that amount is deducted from what an individual owes. The amount owed is the same, but you’ve had a say in how that money gets spent.
The Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR) makes a distinction between two types of qualifying organizations, adding a foster care category this year called Qualifying Foster Care Charitable Organizations (QFCCO). Individuals may contribute separately to organizations that category as well as donations to any QCO up to the maximum amount allowed for each.
So couples filing jointly may contribute $1,000 to the foster care organization and also designate $800 for other QCOs for a total of $1,800, for instance. Individual can give $500 and $400, respectively, according to ADOR.
There is good news for procrastinators, too. This year, you can make your donations anytime up to April 15, 2017. ADOR will consider the tax credit for the preceding year’s taxes (2016), or you may designate your donation for 2017.
The change in deadline dates lets people see where they stand when it comes time to file tax returns, said Gretta Larson, CASA for Kids Foundation board member.
She explained how the tax credit program works for this local agency, the only QFCCO in Yavapai County. CASA for Kids, Inc., provides help for children in the juvenile court system up to age 21. There are more QFCCOs in the state listed on ADOR’s website, which also provides 11 pages of QFOs (www.azdor.gov/portals/0/refundcredits/certifiedcharities2016.pdf).
As with other QCOs, Larson said people can designate where they want their contributions spent, or the money can go into a general account and used where most needed. She mentioned three major tax credit projects at CASA for Kids.
Grants for Kids are given out for items needed for school work, participation fees for sports programs, clothing, beds or car seats, to name a few. The Foundation gave 230 grants this past year.
Larson also is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer, and her child had his football fees paid through the grant program. The children do not need to have a CASA volunteer assigned to them to benefit from the Foundation, however. There are 80 CASA children in the county, she said, and 350 kids in foster care just on this side of the mountain.
“So we said we would help any child in care, including those who have aged out of foster care and are in the independent living program until they turn 21,” she said.
Because the CASA program is a state agency, the entity itself cannot solicit donations, hence the creation of the foundation.
The second program is for emergency clothing sometimes needed when workers with the Department of Child Safety (DCS) remove a child from the home. The Foundation gives Walmart gift cards, so in the middle of night, workers can buy pajamas, underwear, clothing, whatever the child needs.
The third program helps with back-to-school clothing, also through gift cards, with more than $30,000 given out, Larson said.
Other non-profit organizations gladly accept tax credit donations. While not complete, following are some local agencies to give an idea of what types of organizations qualify for tax credit donations: Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, food banks, Meals on Wheels, homeless shelters, Habitat for Humanity, school districts and charter schools, Prescott Valley Library Adult Literacy, Salvation Army, Stepping Stones, and Yavapai Exceptional Industries. To be sure, check the list on the ADOR website or speak with your favorite charity.