California Arts Council

State of California

Arts Council revs up Tax Checkoff Campaign
Strong showing needed before April 16 filing deadline

Published: 03-29-2012

Californians started donating through "Tax Checkoff for the Arts" in January, but the "crunch" time for taxes is now. Over 3,400 Californians gave just over $25,000 to the Arts Council Fund on the "Contributions" section of their tax returns during January and February. The California Arts Council needs to raise at least $250,000 in 2012 for the program to be included in subsequent years.

"Many Californians have said that they'd give a little if they knew it was guaranteed to go to the arts and arts education," said Marilyn Nielsen, Chief Deputy Director for the California Arts Council. "Tax Checkoff for the Arts allows these arts supporters to do this. We're confident that as people learn that those little contributions can provide arts for children and in their communities, more and more Californians will contribute on their state taxes."

But as the Los Angeles Times pointed out on April 5, the Arts Council Fund needs at least a 52% increase over last year's showing to stay in the program.

This is the second year for the "Arts Council Fund," an option on the voluntary contribution portion of California individual tax returns (Forms 540, 540A or 540EZ of the Franchise Tax Board). Contributions may be made in amounts of $1 or more, and are tax deductible. Donated funds go to programs for kids and communities; no donations are spent on administration. The Arts Council's programs for children and communities include Artists in Schools, State-Local Partnership in the Arts (local arts agencies), Creating Public Value in the Arts, and California Poetry Out Loud. A full list can be found on the Arts Council's Grantee Listing and Map page.

The Arts Council sees outreach to arts lovers as vital to Tax Checkoff for the Arts' success; the Arts Council Fund must reach $250,000 in contributions in 2012 to remain in the voluntary contributions program. SEE FTB REPORT ON THE ARTS COUNCIL FUND.

"The early success we've seen can be attributed to word-of-mouth efforts, Facebook and Twitter postings, and the publication of the Tax Checkoff for the Arts information in local newspapers, newsletters and emails statewide," continued Nielsen. 

Notable Californians are helping get the word out about the importance of the Tax Checkoff for the Arts program. Senator Curren Price-- who carried the legislation that put the Arts Council Fund into the "Contributions" section-- encouraged participants at a recent California Arts Plate event at Sony Picture Studios to give a little when filing their state taxes. Over 200 celebrities, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and arts lovers attended the event and heard Sen. Price speak about the program.

Need a little help? We know that navigating tax forms can be difficult, so the California Arts Council has created a guide to help inform individual taxpayers how to participate in Tax Checkoff for the Arts. We've also created magazine ads, web banners and flyers on the program so arts advocates can help spread the word. (The web-size ads are especially useful for social media--some arts lovers have even changed their Facebook profile picture to our Tax Checkoff for the Arts logo until April 16!) SEE MORE.

Individuals interested in detailed information on the Franchise Tax Board's voluntary contribution portion of FTB Form 540 Individual Tax Return should contact Marilyn Nielsen, Deputy Director, at 916-322-6404 or

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