Illinois tax donations to aid cancer studies

By Andy Seifert

Illinois taxpayers who are frustrated or disappointed when filing their 2005 tax returns have a way to feel better, donating to disease research on the same tax return sheet.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced last week that taxpayers can give to special research funds for Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease, and breast, cervical and ovarian cancers, on the 2005 Illinois income tax return papers.

Melanie Arnold, communications manager at the Department of Public Health, said there is a rising need for research funds.

“Cancer continues to be a growing problem,” she said.

Taxpayers can donate to several other causes including research for sarcoidosis, autism, blindness, epilepsy, brain tumor, colon cancer, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

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Donations can be made for $1 or more and are tax deductible. The amount will be deducted from any refund or added to any payment due.

Rachel Berkson, co-president of Colleges Against Cancer, said tax return donations are easy, but donations are also simple on the Internet.

“I believe there are a plethora of opportunities for taxpayers to donate to the fight against cancer each year,” Berkson said in an e-mail interview. “All donations to the American Cancer Society are tax deductible and can now even be done easily in minutes online.”

Eric Bluhm, a junior in LAS, whose grandmother has Alzheimer’s disease, said tax return donations offer increased accessibility.

“I believe that opportunity should be made available,” Bluhm said. “I would gladly donate even a little money towards research. It is easier than making a donation through an organization.”

In July, Gov. Rod Blagojevich awarded six grants totaling $189,997 to Alzheimer’s research from contributions on the 2004 tax return form. More than $3.1 million has been donated to the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fund since it appeared on the form in 1985, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

In Illinois, 211,000 people are afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, a disorder that affects a person’s memory, attention span and ability to learn, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Lou Gehrig’s disease is more rare, but 200 Illinoisans die each year of the disease, which attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord.

Berkson said the donation process is positive for everyone.

“The end result is an overall positive, for donations are tax deductible and these donations are fundamental in supporting cancer research, services, advocacy and education,” she said.