Press Release

Hertzberg Introduces Legislation to Extend Tax Checkoff for Breast Cancer Research

Under SB 440, state taxpayers will be able to continue donating some of their refunds to cancer research through 2024

February 16, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, has introduced legislation to extend tax checkoffs for cancer research through 2024, ensuring that Californians can mark boxes on their state tax returns to help fund the search for a cure to the dreaded disease.

The California Breast Cancer Research Fund and the California Cancer Research Fund are two of the 19 tax checkoff funds that presently appear on tax returns, but they will disappear after 2017 without legislative action. Checkoffs must be renewed every seven years to remain on tax returns.

“Cancer research funds are among the most popular tax checkoffs and deserve to be continued,” Hertzberg said. “These donations pay for rigorous scientific research that helps advance our understanding of cancer, how it works and how we can defeat it.”

Each of the two funds receives about $400,000 a year from the tax checkoffs. The University of California Office of the President (UCOP) oversees the two funds and how they distribute grants, using the money for high-impact research.

The California Breast Cancer Research Fund (CBCRF) supports new approaches to diagnose, treat and prevent breast cancer, including investigating the causes of breast cancer and improving support networks for underserved Californians.

The California Cancer Research Fund (CCRF) supports research relating to the causes, detection and prevention of cancer, including expanding community-based education on cancer and providing prevention and awareness activities for communities that are heavily afflicted by the disease.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in California and the United States after heart disease. More than 57,000 Californians died of cancer in 2013, the most recent year for complete statistics on causes of death.

The bill is sponsored by the UCOP and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

“This legislation speaks directly to the University of California’s public mission of providing world-class research to help solve the seemingly intractable problems that affect the people of our state, our nation and the world,” said Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California. “The CBCRF and the CCRF are UC administered programs that allocate critical funding to advance the fight against breast cancer and other forms of cancer. We are proud to sponsor SB 440.”

Hertzberg has also introduced SB 61, which extends the tax checkoff for California food banks through 2026. That fund received $451,879 in tax return contributions in 2016 but is scheduled to expire in 2019.

SB 440 and SB 61 follow legislation Hertzberg authored last year to increase transparency and oversight of charitable contributions made on tax returns. That bill (SB 1476) became law on Jan. 2.

Among its provisions, SB 1476 requires donations to be continuously appropriated to the administering agency. It also requires the administering agency to post online the process for awarding the money, how program funds are awarded and how much is spent on administration.

SB 1476 was the result of a Senate Governance and Finance Committee oversight hearing held in December 2015 that found problems with how the donations are managed. The committee learned that contributions could take years to reach the intended recipient and sometimes money that wasn’t spent ended up reverting to the state general fund.  

The state Legislature created the tax checkoff system in 1982, and it has raised more than $102 million for charitable causes. State tax returns currently list 19 checkoffs, and those funds collect, on average, between $4 million and $5 million each year.

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Bob Hertzberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water, represents nearly 1 million San Fernando Valley residents of Senate District 18, which includes part of Burbank and the following communities in Los Angeles: Arleta, Granada Hills, Hansen Dam, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, part of Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, part of Sun Valley, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, the City of San Fernando and Universal City. See a district map at http://sd18.senate.ca.gov/district.  After serving in the Assembly from 1996-2002, including two years as Speaker, Hertzberg invested in solar, wind and electric-car projects; and worked for structural changes in government through the Think Long Committee of California. Learn more at www.senate.ca.gov/hertzberg.

MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew LaMar
Communications Director
Senator Robert M. Hertzberg
Capitol Building, Room 4038
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 651-4018

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