Washington (March 30, 2004) -- Federal tax collectors skilled in squeezing blood from a stone may have to give some of it back under proposed new legislation offering taxpayers hefty deductions for donating their organs.

The bill, introduced in the House by Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., would authorize tax deductions for organ donors of up to $15,000 per donation -- an incentive that Hastings says is needed to save the lives of the 6,500 Americans who die each year waiting for an organ transplant.

Under the legislation, taxpayers would be entitled to write off all “qualified organ expenses, such as travel and lost wages, for donating all or part of a liver, lung, pancreas, kidney, intestine or bone marrow for human organ transplantation.”

Although Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has introduced separate legislation enabling the U.S. Public Health Service to reimburse organ donors for “travel and subsistence expenses” associated with organ donation, Hastings says that his proposal is a better approach.

A tax deduction “does not require donors to wait on what is often a long and tedious grant process to approve reimbursement,” he told Congress. Instead, “donors will automatically be able to deduct up to $15,000 in related expenses” from their federal income taxes.

-- Ken Rankin

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