House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn and House Republican Whip Eric Cantor along with Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) and Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI) have announced plans to introduce bipartisan legislation to allow individuals who make charitable contributions to the relief effort in Haiti to claim the donations as an itemized charitable deduction on their 2009 tax returns, rather than waiting until next year to claim the deductions on their 2010 tax returns. Text of the legislation is available here. Majority Whip Clyburn has been tasked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lead the legislative efforts in the House in response to the earthquake in Haiti.
"I am heartened by the outpouring of concern and resources from the American people to the crisis in Haiti", said Majority Whip Clyburn. "At this critical time of recovery in Haiti the most valuable resource is funding, so I am proud to join my friend Chairman Rangel and my colleagues across the aisle, Whip Cantor and Congressman Camp to help assist and encourage the American people give what they can with an immediate tax deduction. The United States Congress stands with the people of Haiti in their time of need, and I look forward to working with my colleagues as we continue to respond to this remarkable disaster."
"In the midst of this horrific disaster, we must do everything we can to help the people of Haiti and the aid workers working so feverishly on the ground to help them", said Republican Whip Cantor. "In times of catastrophe and need, the outpouring of good faith and generosity of our citizens always inspires, and we should do all that we can to encourage and empower that. After reading about and seeing the devastation in Haiti, I reached out to Congressman Clyburn to see whether we could work in tandem to get this effort started. In this time of tragedy, I am glad that politics can be put aside so that we can work together work to provide assistance, comfort and resources to the people of Haiti and their families."
Congress passed similar legislation in January of 2005 in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami. The bill, H.R. 241, approved during the 109th Congress, passed the House of Representatives without objection and the Senate by unanimous consent.
Representative Kendrick Meek (D-FL) has indicated he plans to introduce similar legislation to expedite deductions of contributions to Haiti relief.
Congress is expected to act on this legislation before the end of January.