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TurboTax Change Costs California Charitable Funds

A small change this year to the tax filing software TurboTax likely cost some California charitable funds more than half of their usual proceeds.

Programs to combat breast cancer, protect endangered species and fund Special Olympics were just a few that took a financial hit this past year.

Californians can donate to 20 such programs, when they filed their state taxes.

Typically, taxpayers contribute about $2 million to the funds, but the state Franchise Tax Board saw revenue fall sharply this filing season.

"We noticed in March that donations for all of the funds were down significantly from previous years," says Jacob Roper, a spokesman for the board.

By the end of March, California’s charitable funds had received about $1 million, less than half of the previous year’s $2.3 million haul during the same period.

The board attributes the drop-off to the tax filing software, TurboTax.

"It took an extra click for taxpayers to go into the page that showed all of the voluntary contributions that could be made, and what they went to, and how you could donate," Roper says.

Turbo Tax switched from asking users if they wished to contribute. This year, users had to click "California Contributions" from a menu of options.

The tax board notified TurboTax parent company Intuit of its flagging proceeds in March, and Intuit reverted to the previous display near the end of tax season.

Ben Bradford

Former State Government Reporter

As the State Government Reporter, Ben covered California politics, policy and the interaction between the two. He previously reported on local and state politics, business, energy, and environment for WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Read Full Bio 

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