Two of the happiest words in the English language are “tax refund”. First of all there’s a great sense of relief in just finishing your tax return and finding out you don’t owe any money. But to discover you are getting some back is truly delightful. It conjures up thoughts of ‘oh, now I can trade in my scooter for a Harley Davidson’. OK, that’s just me.
However, before you do anything, before you make any plans to spend the money, pause for just a moment and consider this: by donating a small portion of that refund you can make a big difference to organizations searching for cures for deadly diseases such as Lou Gehrig’s disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS) and Alzheimer’s.
There is a section on the California Tax Return form 540 that allows you to donate money to different charities or causes. You can find it under the section marked ‘Voluntary Contributions’ and all you have to do is tick off the box of the charity or charities you want to make a contribution to. You can give as much, or as little as you like, it can be as little as $10 or as much as the refund itself.
In the case of an organization like the ALS Association, all the money they get from the tax return contributions goes to funding research, helping scientists search for treatments for a currently incurable disease. Here’s a link to their website where you can find more information.
To stay on the tax form the charities have to raise at least $250,000 each year. For a small organization like the ALS Association that can be a tall order – even for larger groups like the Alzheimer’s Association it’s no easy task - so every dollar donated really helps them. Here’s a link to the Alzheimer’s Association’s page.
Think of it this way. When you started filling out the tax form you had already assumed the money was gone for good, so you are not actually losing out. Instead you are using your unexpected windfall to help a truly worthy cause, to fund research that will hopefully one day benefit millions of people.
And you still get to keep the rest of the refund! Now that’s what I call a win-win.