Press Release

Bills to Extend Tax Checkoffs for Breast Cancer Research, Food Banks Pass Committee

SB 440 keeps cancer research donations on state tax returns through 2024, SB 61 keeps food banks on returns through 2026

June 19, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Legislation by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, to ensure that Californians can continue to mark boxes on their state tax returns to contribute money to cancer research and, separately, food banks today passed the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation.

SB 61 extends a tax checkoff for food banks from 2019 through 2026, and SB 440 extends a tax checkoff for cancer research from 2017 through 2024. The Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation passed both bills on 9-0 votes, and they go next to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration. 

“Cancer research and feeding the hungry are two very important causes that deserve our support,” Hertzberg said. “These bills continue significant funding streams that will result in feeding more hungry Californians and advancing scientific understanding of cancer and how to defeat it.”

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.

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.

In addition, 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 legislation 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 is sponsored by the California Association of Food Banks.

The California Breast Cancer Research Fund 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 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.

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