State behind on paying tax-return donations to charities

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.

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koffeeking wrote on January 26, 2011 at 11:01 am

Maybe part of the issue is that we are looking to our government instead of the community and its members to take care of those who are in need of help. It takes a village, not a government.

momof4 wrote on January 26, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Its not surprising at all. This is sad really. I would bet my bottom dollar that the employees are not getting late paychecks, and the vendors for the $1 Million Inaugural bash got paid on time. This state is so pathetic, and gets worse by the day.

momof4 wrote on January 26, 2011 at 3:01 pm

The village has done their part. Now they are waiting on the government. If they keep raising taxes than nobody will be able to help!

Cynical Sam wrote on January 26, 2011 at 6:01 pm
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How about the "government" stays out of the charity donation business with taxpayer money and lets the private sector donate as they see fit to organizations of THEIR choice.

trey wrote on February 08, 2011 at 7:02 am

Sam, EXACTLY!... state government has no business to be in the business of collecting charitable contributions!...if you want to give..give directly to the organization...

I shudder to think of the actual cost of collecting and redistributing a $1 donated... our tax dollars at work; what idiot(s) thought this one was a good idea!!