All members of Congress came together late last week with both the House and Senate voting unanimously to approve legislation that will allow eligible taxpayers to claim a deduction on their 2009 income tax returns for contributions to earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, if those contributions are made on or after January 12, 2010 and no later than February 28, 2010.
H.R.4462 - To accelerate the income tax benefits for charitable cash contributions for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Haiti - was signed into law by President Obama on Friday evening, January 22,
Taxpayers should note that this legislation applies only to cash contributions and not to non-cash contributions such as food or clothing. Also, contributions to foreign organizations do not qualify for the deduction - only contributions to U.S. organizations count for the early deduction.
As with all tax-deductible contributions, documentation is required to substantiate the date and amount of the contribution. The legislation contains a provision which permits a telephone bill to be used as documentation of contributions made by text message. The American Red Cross has set up a service to accept donations by text message. Texting the word "Haiti" to 90999 initiates a $10 donation to the American Red Cross for Haiti relief.