Last year sea otter advocates won an important victory to keep the California Sea Otter Fund tax check-off option on state income tax forms. This fund, financed by tax payers, is an important financial lifeline that supports critical sea otter research.
Since 2009, scientists have been working to understand why the southern sea otter population has started to decline. In order to provide answers that can help to reverse this trend, Californian taxpayers supported the California Sea Otter Fund through voluntary donations on the state income tax forms. The Fund, divided equally among the California Coastal Conservancy and the California Department of Fish and Game, currently supports vital research seeking to understand the identified correlation between coastal pollution and sea otter populations.
To accomplish this task, researchers compare random samples of tagged sea otters from the polluted waters near relatively densely populated Monterey coastline and the near pristine waters off the coast of sparsely populated Big Sur. By comparing patterns of disease, the exposure to contaminants, physiological condition, behavior, diet, survival and reproductive success between these two contrasting regions, researchers are discovering beginning to understand the relationships between near-shore water quality, pollution, nutritional deficiencies and sea otter population health. For more information on current sea otter studies, click here.
Though legislation last year ensured the possibility of the Sea Otter Fund to appear on California income tax forms, each year the Fund must “prove its popularity” by attracting a minimum amount of donations.
In 2012, the minimum contribution level is $260,890, and any amount, small or large, will help to reach this minimum. Here’s how you can make your contribution:
- When filling out your 540 form, look for line 410 labeled CA Sea Otter Fund, under Contributions. Fill out whatever amount you wish to donate.
- If owed money by the state, whatever amount you contribute to the CA Sea Otter Fund will be deducted from your refund.
- If you owe taxes, whatever amount you contribute should be added to your check you make out to the State
Every donation to the Fund is important, even if it is as low as $1. So please remember sea otters on tax day and consider a donation to the California Sea Otter Fund.