Virtually every state now offers voluntary income tax checkoffs to fund popular social causes. Income tax checkoffs are most common for supporting wildlife preservation, child abuse prevention and political campaigns. These funds are occasionally used to fund the arts; however, the strategy has been implemented in very few states. Less than 2% of taxpayers participate in checkoffs, making them a modest funding strategy for most organizations and causes.
In fiscal year 2018, only four state arts agencies reported receiving funds from tax checkoff programs. California is the only state to receive a substantial amount, $250,000, from this funding mechanism. For other states, receipts ranged from $4,700-$17,000. Several additional states have discontinued previous arts checkoff mechanisms due to low funding returns.
|Alabama: The Alabama State Arts Council receives revenue each year from checkoffs to support its programming. On average, the checkoff represents 0.5% or less of the total agency budget. While the checkoff has been a somewhat reliable source of income, the dollar amount received has not changed substantially since its inception in the early 1980s.|
|California: The California Arts Council began receiving money from a voluntary tax checkoff in 2011. Tax-deductible contributions of $1 or more are directed to the Arts Council to support its programs. The “Tax Checkoff for the Arts” appeared on California tax returns until 2014; a new checkoff, for arts education programs administered by the Arts Council, has been on the state’s tax returns since 2014.|
|Kansas: An arts checkoff was authorized in 2012 to benefit the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission. Taxpayers can choose to contribute $1 or more directly to the Commission to support its activities.|
|Michigan: The Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs began a new arts checkoff with the 2009 tax filing. Taxpayers could contribute $5 or more directly to the Council in support of local arts and cultural events. This checkoff ended after 2011 when it failed to earn enough money.|
|Oregon: From 1985 to 1993, the Oregon Arts Commission received tax checkoff funds, which were distributed through the Cultural Facilities Program. The Commission received as much as $167,000 in 1986, when it was the only checkoff on the form. Shortly thereafter, many causes began competing for funds and the arts checkoff was eventually eliminated when it failed to earn $50,000 in two consecutive years.|
|Rhode Island: In Rhode Island there is a checkoff that supports the arts, but funds generated are not given to the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. Instead, these funds are used by the Arts and Tourism Commission, primarily to fund tourism promotion.|
|Virginia: Arts checkoffs in Virginia present a unique situation: there are two. The most recent, which began in 2010, goes directly to the Virginia Commission for the Arts and generated $12,000 in FY2018. The other checkoff started in the late 1990s and funds are directed to the Virginia Arts Foundation; the Commission receives interest generated from the investment of these funds once a minimum amount of principal has accrued. As of 2018, the Commission has yet to realize any income from the second checkoff.|