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 Soylent Green: New Jersey bills call for $1K tax credit to organ donors

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PostSubject: Soylent Green: New Jersey bills call for $1K tax credit to organ donors   Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:03 am

TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey lawmaker wants to offer tax credits to organ donors, but his no-strings approach is meeting opposition from groups who believe the practice runs afoul of federal law.

While the National Organ Transplant Act makes it illegal for hospitals to pay for organs, 19 states provide either a tax credit or deduction for verifiable, unreimbursed expenses related to living organ donations, said Troy Zimmerman, of the National Kidney Foundation. In some states, the benefit also includes the donor’s lost wages.

Donor groups who support a cost-neutral approach have raised issues with New Jersey’s proposal to provide residents with $1,000 in income tax credits for donating organs, or a $100 tax credit for donating blood, platelets or plasma because it does not specifically apply to a donor’s expenses.

“It falls into the category of well-intentioned legislatures looking to do something to increase the number of donors,” said David Fleming, president of Donate Life America.

Fleming said he worries tax breaks could become bargaining chips to entice the families of dead donors, drive donors from neighboring states that don’t offer financial incentives, prey on the poor or create a black market.

The World Health Organization estimates 8 to 10 percent of the 119,873 organs transplanted globally in 2014 were illegal, but WHO does not have precise numbers because black markets were involved.

The National Kidney Foundation said 19,059 people received kidney transplants in the U.S. last year and 5,628 were the result of living donors. There are nearly 120,000 people living in the U.S. awaiting organ donations, according to Donate Life America.

New Jersey Republican state Sen. Gerald Cardinale said he got the idea for the organ donation bill when a friend died waiting for a kidney while another friend of his lived after receiving a transplant.

“It’s important to get something done that encourages the activity,” he said, acknowledging that the bill’s approach may violate the federal act and he’s willing to make changes.

A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Transplantation found “no statistically significant effect” of tax policies on donation rates in 15 states that offered them at the time.
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