Remember California's Threatened and Endangered Species at Tax Time

Help protect at-risk species like the western yellow-billed cuckoo, the coast yellow leptosiphon and the California sea otter by making a donation through the Voluntary Contributions section on your California Income Tax Form 540.

Your donation to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program, (line 403 on California Income Tax Form 540) or the California Sea Otter Fund (line 410) will support the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) efforts to identify and mitigate the conditions and activities that threaten native species populations. By donating whatever you can afford—even if only a few dollars— you will help CDFW and our partners conduct further research and ensure that critical habitat for threatened and endangered species is conserved and enhanced.

Contributions to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program support conservation actions that help protect hundreds of rare, threatened and endangered plants and animals in the Golden State.

California, with its five major climate types and sheer size of more than 100-million acres, is home to more than 5,000 native plant species and more than 1,000 native animal species. More than 300 are designated by the state as rare, threatened, or endangered. These plant and animal populations are part of California’s unique ecosystems and our natural heritage. At least one third of plants and two thirds of animals are endemic species that occur nowhere else in the world. They need our help to survive and thrive as they did before humans began to change and fragment the natural landscape. Loss of habitat, water management conflicts, invasive species, and climate change are the greatest threats to their long-term survival.

By donating to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program you will contribute to the protection and recovery of these plants and animals and the wild lands they inhabit.

Similarly, by donating to the California Sea Otter Fund (line 410) you will provide crucial support for CDFW scientists to continue investigating sea otter mortality and possible reasons the population is still not thriving. A portion of the money also goes to the link opens in new windowState Coastal Conservancy (SCC), where it is used to support research, science, protection projects and programs related to the Federal Sea Otter Recovery Plan.

California’s southern sea otters were thought to be extinct from the late 19th century until 1938, when a small population was discovered near Big Sur. Given legal protection, their numbers slowly increased, but to this day they continue to be listed as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act. They are also protected by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and have fully protected species status under state law.

Even with these protections, the sea otter population growth continues to be limited by a high mortality rate. Donations to the California Sea Otter Fund (line 410) enable CDFW scientists to continue researching why so many otters are dying. Past contributions have funded research that uncovered a substantial proportion of sea otter mortality was caused by diseases, parasites and toxins that can be tied back to pollution from human activities on land. By donating even a few dollars through the Voluntary Contributions section on your California Income Tax Form 540, you will help fund CDFW’s efforts to research and restore critical habitat for these threatened species.

Please consider a donation with this year’s state tax return.

If you use Turbo Tax, when you are near the end of your tax return you will be asked if you want to make a voluntary contribution to a special fund. Click “Yes” and go to lines 403 or 410.

If someone else prepares your return, please let them know you want to donate to the Rare and Endangered Species Protection Program on line 403 and the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410.