Press Release

Governor Signs Bill to Extend Tax Checkoffs for Food Banks

SB 61 keeps food banks on tax state returns through 2026, provides vital source of funding to feed the hungry

October 12, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, announced today that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed his legislation to ensure that Californians can continue to mark boxes on their state tax returns to contribute money to food banks.

SB 61 extends a tax checkoff for food banks from 2019 through 2026. Brown has also signed Hertzberg’s SB 440, which extends a tax checkoff for cancer research from 2017 through 2024.

“Every day, millions of Californians fight hunger,” Hertzberg said. “This legislation is a simple way to continue a vital, voluntary funding source to help feed hungry California families.”

The Emergency Food for Families Fund has appeared on tax returns since 1998 as a donation option, but it is scheduled to disappear beginning in 2019, without legislative action. The fund is administered by the California Association of Food Banks, which represents over 40 food banks that work with approximately 6,000 charities to provide food to 2 million Californians.

The fund received $451,879 in tax return contributions in 2016 and $460,883 in 2015. The tax checkoff contributions received in 2016 paid for roughly 2.5 million meals. The bill was sponsored by the California Association of Food Banks.

About 5.4 million Californians struggle with food insecurity, meaning they don’t know where their next meal will come from, according to the association. That includes one quarter of all California children.

SB 61 and SB 440 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.


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  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

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


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