SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed a new law that creates a tax checkoff for the Heartsaver AED Fund. Automated external defibrillators (AED) are portable, life saving devices that can be used to restore natural heart rhythm to someone in cardiac arrest. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Illinois and takes the lives of more than 200,000 Americans each year. The American Red Cross estimates that 50,000 people across the country could be saved if AED machines were more readily accessible. House Bill 542, sponsored by Rep. Mike Boland (D – Moline) and Sen. Martin Sandoval (D – Chicago) and initiated by Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, will add the checkoff to next year’s tax returns.
“Defibrillators can literally save lives,” said Governor Blagojevich. “By creating a new tax check off, we can help put more defibrillators in places where they can make a difference like schools and parks.”
HB 542 will allow Illinois taxpayers, when filing their yearly forms, to donate to the Heartsaver AED Fund
. The Heartsaver AED Fund was created on Valentine’s Day 2005 with the Governor’s signature on Senate Bill 2216 and makes matching funds available through the Illinois Department of Public Health for facilities that are required to have AEDs. These include public schools, universities, and park districts. Generally, AEDs cost about $1,500, but can range anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000.
"Increasing the public's access to life-saving technology is a responsibility we all share," said Lt. Governor Pat Quinn. "Through the donations of individuals to the Heartsaver Trust Fund, schools and parks districts will be assisted in purchasing defibrillators, and countless lives will be saved. Our goal is to make defibrillators as common as fire extinguishers -- and breathe life into those who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest."
Taxpayers may contribute to the fund by indicating on their income tax return form the amount they wish to donate. The amount pledged will either decrease the amount of a refund or increase the amount due. All donations are tax deductible.
"The new tax checkoff gives folks a wonderful way to help purchase AEDs for various locations statewide, and in turn save lives,” said Rep. Boland. “These are vital instruments to make available so that AEDs are ready to save lives in an emergency."
"Heart disease is this country's top killer," Rep. Daniel Burke (D-Chicago) said. "When a person goes into cardiac arrest, every minute can mean the difference between life and death. Having an automated external defibrillator (AED) on-site in these unexpected situations can be the key to saving a life. By including the Heartsaver AED Fund as a tax checkoff, this new law gives the citizens of Illinois the opportunity to contribute to the fund, making it possible for more of our schools to receive the funds they need to obtain AEDs and save lives."
During the 2004 tax season, Illinoisans donated more than $1.8 million to the nine causes that were listed on that year’s form, up more than $300,000 from the previous year. Contributions on the 2005 returns are on track to meet that level again.
The Fiscal Year 2007 budget includes $100,000 for the Heartsaver AED Fund, and Walgreens donated an additional $10,000 in February 2006. HB 542 is effective immediately.