New Law Package Allows Organ Donor Registry Option on State Tax Returns

Until recently, the option to become a registered organ donor in Michigan was limited to visiting a Secretary of State (SOS) office and joining the registry after renewing or applying for a driver’s license or state identification.

A new law informally titled “Check Your Heart” offers an additional option to join the Organ Donor Registry. The legislation, which was recently signed into law, is the first of its kind in the United States.

What does the new law provide?

House Bill 4362 amends the Income Tax Act to enable an individual to designate a willingness to be an organ donor on their annual state income tax return and require a completed separate donor registry schedule to include with the return.

Beginning with the 2023 tax year, the state individual income tax return will contain a space for the taxpayer to indicate if they are willing to participate in the Anatomical Gift Donor Registry. Information regarding the donor registry program will also be included.

To be included as a donor on the registry if filing a joint return, each taxpayer who agrees to participate in the anatomical gift donor registry would have to separately affirm their willingness to be placed on the donor registry by completing the donor registry schedule either online or through the mail.

Why was “Check Your Heart” introduced?

“Check Your Heart” is the phrase the SOS uses to refer to the box on driver's license applications to become a registered organ donor. According to the SOS, more than half of Michigan drivers have registered as organ donors, with 95 percent of those registering when obtaining or renewing a driver’s license at an SOS office.

However, pandemic-related changes such as a reduction in in-person appointments at SOS offices and a shift to more online renewals, coupled with allowing a license to be renewed online three times rather than twice, have reportedly resulted in fewer people checking the box to be added to the Michigan donor registry.

What happens after a person registers?

Once a person attests to being an organ donor, whether on a tax form under the new law or at an SOS office, they are placed in the organ donor registry database maintained by the SOS. Registering is legally binding, as it constitutes first-person authorization, meaning that family members cannot override a person’s wishes to be an organ donor (with an exception that allows parents of minors to revoke a minor child’s designation).

Help is available

The attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are available to answer your questions regarding the new law. For more information, please call 586-726-1000 or visit our website.

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