Press Release

Hertzberg Introduces Legislation to Extend Tax Checkoff for Food Banks

Under SB 61, state taxpayers will have the option to donate some of their refunds to feed the hungry on returns through 2026

December 22, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, introduced legislation today to extend a tax checkoff for food banks through 2026, ensuring that Californians can choose to donate some of their state tax refund to help feed the hungry by marking a box on their returns.

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 holiday season reminds many of us of how fortunate we are and how important it is to help those who are in need,” Hertzberg said. “This legislation will continue a significant funding stream for California’s food banks, which play a vital role in feeding the hungry and supporting struggling families across the state.”

The fund received $451,879 in tax return contributions in 2016 and $460,883 in 2015. The fund is administered by the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB), which represents over 40 food banks that work with approximately 6,000 charities to provide food to 2 million Californians.

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.

“At a time when one in eight Californians still suffers from food insecurity, the tax checkoff is an essential source of revenue for food banks to achieve our mission to end hunger in California,” said Andrew Cheyne, CAFB’s director of government affairs. “At no cost to the General Fund, these donations are the only reliable state funding for California food banks. They enable food banks to purchase expensive items like turkeys for families in need during the holidays.”

SB 61 follows legislation Hertzberg authored earlier this year, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed in September, to increase transparency and oversight of charitable contributions made on tax returns. That law takes effect on Jan. 2, 2017.

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 Governance and Finance, 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


California State Senate Majority Caucus © 2015 | Privacy Policy | Accessibility Statement | Register to Vote