House unanimously passes bill to expedite tax deductions for Haiti contributions

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives stepped back from their busy schedule and did something nice for the victims of the recent Haiti earthquake devastation. If the House bill becomes law, donations made to U.S.-based tax-exempt charities supplying relief to Haiti victims between January 12 and February 28, 2010 can be deducted on 2009 income tax returns.

The Senate Finance Committee has introduced similar legislation and it is expected to pass, perhaps as soon as today. “This legislation is an additional incentive for Americans to contribute,” said Finance Committee Chairman Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana, in a statement.

Because current law requires taxpayers to be able to provide documentation for any contribution deductions, the legislation contains a provision for people to use their phone records as documentation to support texted donations for Haiti relief made from their cell phones. The American Red Cross has been using this texting feature to collect money in $10 increments for the relief effort. To date they have raised more than $8 million just through people texting "Haiti" to 90999. The contributions are charged to the cell phone bills.

This is not the first time that Congress has allowed this type of deduction. In early 2005, Congress voted to allow contributions to tsunami victims as deductions on 2004 income tax returns.

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