Illinois News Network
Illinois taxpayers can use the state’s income tax form to donate to child abuse prevention, childhood cancer research and military family relief.
But if you want to make sure your money actually gets to the charities, you might want to give them a check directly instead of using the state as a middleman.
That’s because the money in these charity funds isn’t protected from pillage by politicians.
“Illinois is in a state where they are financially destitute and people think these funds are restricted, but they aren’t,” said Gordon Jumper, a Jacksonville, Ill., certified public accountant. “It’s an account that is controlled and under the discretion of the state of Illinois and it’s not protected.”
In 2010 the state took $434,000 from these charity accounts through sweeps, or transfers, into the general fund. There is no requirement for the sweeps, which were approved by Gov. Pat Quinn and the Legislature, to be paid back.
In 2011 Illinois borrowed $1.1 million from the charity funds, which it eventually paid back.
Tom Williams, a 48-year-old Springfield resident, compared the sweeps to theft.
“If you mailed a bill to the electric company and the lady at the electric company took it home and spent it on something else that would be theft,” said Williams. “If you are making a charitable contribution to someone, that is where the money should go.”
Susan Hofer, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Revenue, said that money will not be swept from the charity funds this year, but she did not rule out the possibility of borrowing from the funds.
“If it’s borrowed and repaid before any charities can receive the grant money then it has no effect on the charities,” she said.
But Jumper said the fact that these funds are even subject to sweeps or borrowing should be enough to keep people from donating their money through the income tax form.
“I don’t think it’s particularly well known that the money in these accounts is subject to these sweeps,” he said. “If it was, there would probably be less people donating through the tax return.”