With the April 17 tax deadline fast approaching, Marylanders are encouraged to “Check Line 35” on their Maryland state income tax form and contribute to the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund, a donation program created to support Bay restoration and to protect Maryland’s endangered species. This fund, which is split evenly between the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, allows Marylanders to donate through their tax return to help the Bay and conserve Maryland’s native wildlife and endangered species. In 2011, more than $1.1 million was contributed through the tax check-off, which helped restore Maryland’s shorelines, educate schoolchildren about the environment, green our neighborhoods and clean-up local rivers and streams.
“At tax time, Marylanders have a unique opportunity to help the environment by making a contribution to the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund,” said Comptroller Peter Franchot. “Simply look for line 35 on your tax form, decide what you’d like to contribute, and then take pride knowing you are helping to make a difference for the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland’s wildlife.”
The Chesapeake Bay Trust, the nonprofit organization that receives half the proceeds generated from the Bay Fund, awards hundreds of grants each year to organizations to improve the health of the Bay and local waters. Since 1985, the Trust has awarded more than $45 million in grants, including $5.2 million in 2011 alone to local organizations, schools, and community groups. And these dollars have a real impact: last year, Trust grants engaged 66,000 students and 40,200 volunteers who removed 580 tons of trash from Maryland streams and rivers, planted 95,000 native plants and trees, and restored 70 acres of wetlands, oyster reefs and streamside buffers. The Trust also prides itself on useing donations wisely as fully 90% of expenditures are dedicated to programs that benefit the environment.
“Marylanders care deeply about the Chesapeake Bay and they show their commitment at tax time by participating in the state’s income tax check-off program for the Bay,” said Chesapeake Bay Trust Executive Director Allen Hance. “Small contributions of $10, $25 or $50 add up in a big way and generate the funds that the Trust uses to support hundreds of projects that get kids outdoors and help improve the health of local communities and Maryland’s waters.”
Launched in 1990, the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund is one of the most successful voluntary tax check-off programs in the nation. Last year, almost 40,000 Maryland state income tax statements were returned with contributions to the fund, which averaged $28 per donation. To make your donation, simply write the amount you’d like to donate on line 35 on your Maryland state income tax form or ask your accountant. Donations of any dollar amount can be made and all are tax deductible. For more information on the Chesapeake Bay Trust, visit www.cbtrust.org, or for details on the Department of Natural Resource’s Wildlife and Heritage Division, visit www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife.