Off Limits

But what's the co-pay?

Colorado, which was the first state to implement a voluntary "check off" option in 1977, this year is offering two new funds to choose from, rounding out a list of very strange bedfellows. Joining such perennial favorites as the United States Olympic Committee and Special Olympic Committee are the Colorado Watershed Protection Fund (which gives money to community-based groups in planning and implementing watershed-protection efforts) and the Colorado Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Fund (which advises the courts on what to do with children in abusive and neglectful situations).

If kids and endangered animals aren't your thing, you can also support the operation and maintenance of the only veterans' cemetery west of the Continental Divide, or groups that run low-cost spay and neuter programs, especially in rural areas, or organizations that help curb domestic abuse or prevent homelessness.

But not just any charity can be a "check off" -- in fact, some of Colorado's biggest nonprofits are absent. For an organization to be included on the tax form, the Colorado Legislature must pass a law authorizing its placement there. Each fund is then reviewed annually to ensure that it received at least 10 percent of the total donations; if not, the charity is pulled off the list.

And while Colorado's animal affection is no real surprise, the fact that so many people are enamored of the Western Slope veterans' cemetery sure is.

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