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Tax Credits for Blood

offer tax deductions to blood donors
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In the USA, it's illegal to pay people for volunteer donations of whole blood. This is one of the major reasons why there are chronic shortages of blood in hospitals across the nation. The government and charitable agencies appeal to people's good nature, but in reality only 5% of eligible donors actually give blood (source: American Red Cross).

But the blood has a value. Hospitals pay blood banks (especially the non-charity ones like UBS and LifeSource) a significant amount for a unit of blood. Most of the cost is in the overhead needed to collect, screen, and distribute the units of blood.

So if the government dictates that money can't be given to donors, but is willing to acknowledge the blood has value, why can't a volunteer blood donation be considered a charitable donation to a non-profit organization?

In the US tax code, contributions to quailfied charitable organizations can be deducted from one's income tax. So if ARC and other blood banks want more donors to show up, why not hand out receipts recognizing the donation as a charitable contribution of, say, $250 per donation?

Would you donate 4 times a year (usually the maximum) to take $1000 off of your (itemized) income tax return? It's not a direct cash payoff, so you won't have the problem of cash-strapped people donating just for the money.

koz, Jul 16 2001

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       What if you proffer your veins at the local Red Cross only to be turned away because you have low iron? It's not something everyone can count on...But I live in Canada, so I guess it wouldn't affect me anyway.
Heloise, Jul 16 2001
  

       On a cross - US roadtrip in Fall of 1998, I couldn't help but notice how many places in Arkansas had 'We buy blood' signs in really really really small towns that looked even poorer than they were small.
thumbwax, Jul 16 2001
  

       Problem: not just low iron. I can't donate in the US anymore because I spent more than 6 months in France in '95-'96 and might have been exposed to Mad Cow Disease. I used to donate up to the limit. So, can you give me a tax deduction for good intentions?
migennes, Sep 02 2002
  

       If your donation is not acceptable (low iron or potential for disease), and therefore refused by the recipient, you shouldn't be elgible for the credit. Afterall, the credit wouldn't be about good intentions or unusable donations. If this were a real tax credit maybe it would shape behavior of people--like making people eat more spinach or avoiding travel to unsafe places (like France).   

       The problem with the credit idea is that it MAY incourage unfit donors to try to pass thier bad blood off as good. A portion of the screening process for blood is a questionaire about health behaviors of the donor. A financial incentive might make some more apt to lie.
SteveO, Oct 06 2003
  
      
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