Friday, January 29, 2010

Special Tax Relief for Donations Made To Haiti

People who give to charities providing earthquake relief to Haiti can claim these donations on their 2009 tax returns, according to a new special relief provision issued by the Internal Revenue Service. This special tax relief provision for Haiti is modeled on a 2005 law that allowed taxpayers to deduct donations made in January 2005 on their 2004 returns in the wake of the Dec. 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami.

Only taxpayers who itemize deductions on their 2009 return qualify for this special tax relief provision. All short-form filers and taxpayers who use the standard deduction are ineligible. . Only cash contributions made to these charities after Jan. 11, 2010, and before March 1, 2010, are eligible. This includes contributions made by:
  • text message,
  • check,
  • credit or debit card.

You can benefit from your donations, almost immediately, by filing your 2009 returns early, filing electronically, and choosing direct deposit. Refunds take as few as ten days and can be directly deposited into a savings, checking or brokerage account, or used to purchase Series I U.S. savings bonds.

You have the option of deducting these contributions on either your 2009 or your 2010 returns, but not both.

You should make sure your contributions go to qualified charities. Most organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible donations are listed in a searchable online database available on under Search for Charities. Some organizations, such as churches or governments, may be qualified even though they are not listed on Donors can find out more about organizations helping Haitian earthquake victims from agencies such as USAID. Contributions to foreign organizations generally are not deductible.

Federal law requires that you keep a record of any deductible donations you make. For donations by text message, a telephone bill will meet the recordkeeping requirement if it shows the name of the donee organization, the date of the contribution and the amount of the contribution. For cash contributions made by other means, be sure to keep a bank record, such as a cancelled check, or a receipt from the charity showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution.

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