State behind on paying tax-return donations to charities
Illinois taxpayers donated more than $1.3 million to 10 nonprofit causes last year, but many charities have yet to see the money.
The Crisis Nursery of Champaign County is still waiting to get its share of $44,771 donated to a statewide Crisis Nursery Fund on 2009 tax returns. It's supposed to get more than $6,300, said Executive Director Stephanie Record.
And Feeding Illinois, which oversees the state's eight food banks, has not received the $100,246 given by taxpayers for hunger relief.
"We were supposed to get it in July," Record said. "Like everything with the state, it was held up a little bit. That's frustrating."
Because of Illinois' budget crisis, the state is several billion dollars behind on reimbursements to schools, universities and other vendors with state contracts, as well as the charities designated on Schedule G of the state's individual income tax returns.
Legislators approved an income tax increase that took effect Jan. 1, but that money won't be available for several months. And the General Assembly has yet to approve a bonding bill that would let the state borrow money to reduce the backlog of unpaid bills.
Brad Hahn, spokesman for newly elected state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, said the charities can expect to begin getting payments in mid-April, after tax receipts from 2010 returns start coming in.
The comptroller's office recently paid bills submitted in August, Hahn said. About $38,000 worth of vouchers were submitted for the Crisis Nursery Fund on Nov. 10.
The comptroller has yet to receive any vouchers from the Department of Human Services for the Hunger Relief Fund, which benefits the Eastern Illinois Foodbank among others, Hahn said.
Various state agencies disburse the money donated through the Schedule G checkoff funds, said Susan Hofer, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Revenue.
Record said she had specifically asked last year whether the money might get held up because of the state's budget problems but was told the money would "just flow through" to the designated charities.
"To not have it yet is a little disconcerting," she said.
Record said state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, has pushed the state to free up the money. Frerichs' chief of staff, Laurie Bonnett, said Tuesday she was told the checkoff payments come out of the state's general fund, and "we're just going to have to wait."
The length of the delay surprised Gina Stierwalt, development director for Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County, which made the checkoff list for the first time this year.
But she said state Habitat officials have been conservative in their planning, telling affiliates they wouldn't find out how much they're getting until next November. And the local chapter didn't plan to get the money during the 2011 calendar year, she said.