On Wednesday, the House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that will allow people to use charitable contributions to the Haiti earthquake relief efforts as a 2009 tax deduction. This measure was passed to encourage more people to make donations to aid in the recovery efforts.
This bill was unanimously approved by the Senate on Thursday and should be signed into law by the President soon. According to CNN, this should apply to charitable contributions made between Jan. 12 and Feb. 28, 2010.
Claiming Haiti earthquake relief donations as 2009 tax deduction
According to the bill, cash donations are the only donations that are eligible to be counted as a 2009 tax deduction. “Cash” also includes bank drafts, checks, credit cards, and donations made via text messages. You will need to itemize your taxes in order to uyse these as a tax write off. In all cases, you will need to include proof of your donation, such as a receipt or itemized phone bill (for text messages).
Note: You can also wait and use your donations as a 2010 tax deduction.
Still time to give to the Haiti relief efforts
There is still a great need for donations and there is still time to take advantage of this tax break for 2009. Last week I wrote an article about How You Can Help the Relief Efforts in Haiti, which included a list of reputable charitable organizations that have the scope and reach to use your donations effectively. My wife and I gave to Doctors Without Borders, but there are many other wonderful organizations providing relief to the people of Haiti.
As with any natural disaster or other time of need, there are people trying to take advantage of the situation to steal or otherwise misdirect the good intentions of people who are trying to help. Please investigate the charity to ensure it is legitimate, and follow these tips to avoid charity scams. Other places you can go to investigate charities include: