NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Wisconsin Becomes First State to Compensate Organ Donors

January 26, 2004

Due to the shortage of organ donations, thousands of Americans die each year waiting for a transplant. In what supporters call the most ambitious move by a state government to increase the availability of organ transplants, the Wisconsin State Senate recently passed a bill allowing a state income tax deduction of up to $10,000 to cover expenses for residents who donate their organs. Under the bill:

  • Donors can deduct from their taxable income the costs incurred from donating their liver, pancreas, kidney, intestine, lung or bone marrow.
  • Eligible expenses include travel, lodging and lost wages up to a maximum deduction of $10,000.
  • The state expects the bill will cost $115,000 annually in lost tax revenue; however, supporters say no one would receive any additional money for donating -- all they would do is lose less money.

Critics are concerned that the new law may conflict with the 20-year-old National Organ Transplant Act, which bans the purchase or sale of human organs. Moreover, it is unclear to what extent the bill will encourage additional donations outside of cases where donation would occur anyway -- such as a kidney donation between a father and his child.

Source: Jo Napolitano, "Wisconsin Senate Approves Tax Deduction for Organ Donors," New York Times, January 23, 2004.


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