With just over a week left to file taxes, many Oklahomans might be wondering about the "tip jar" on one of the last pages. Form 511-G gives anyone a chance to donate some money right after you've done your taxes, but only a few charities get anything substantial out of the program.
Things are always busy at the Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. The demand for their service is growing, and that's why they appreciate every dollar that comes in the door. Some of it comes straight from the Oklahoma Tax Commission; donated by people on their state tax returns.
Food Bank Executive Director Eileen Bradshaw had never seen who all gets what, until we showed her.
"We don't normally get to see this perspective, we just see what we get, that's great," Bradshaw said.
It's schedule 511-G that taxpayers use to donate from their refunds.
There are 19 choices right now including, Low Income Health Care, the MS Society, a program for Sports Eye Safety, the Greenwood Music Festivals and County Fairs. Over the last 5 years, some have collected over $100,000, some only pocket change.
The smallest amount is $6 that went for something called the Tulsa Reconciliation Scholarship. The most was $168,000 that went to the state's two largest food banks.
For last year, Bradshaw said the food bank in Tulsa got about $9,000. She was surprised some causes get so little, but believes it's because the program is relatively obscure.
"We don't hear much about it, and I'll confess I didn't know about until I came to the food bank, and we do our own taxes, so I've honed in on that. But it is an easy way for people to share a little bit of their refund," said Bradshaw.
The tax form suggests $2 and $5 donations, but people can give whatever they want. The Tax Commission collects the money and writes checks to the charities each summer.
The information from the Tax Commission came through an open records request.