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US Lawmakers Seek Relief For Haiti Donations

by Leroy Baker, Tax-News.com, New York

20 January 2010


A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives intend to introduce legislation that would allow individuals who make charitable contributions to victims of the earthquake in Haiti to claim an itemized charitable deduction on their 2009 tax return.

The legislation, sponsored by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY), Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI), Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC), and House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), will allow taxpayers to claim donations to the rescue efforts in Haiti in 2009 instead of having to wait until next year to claim them on their 2010 tax returns.

Under the bill, for the purposes of Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code a taxpayer may treat a cash contribution made for the relief of victims in areas affected by the earthquake in Haiti made after January 11, 2010, and before March 1, 2010, as if such contribution was made on December 31, 2009, and not in 2010.

“The American people are responding with generosity and compassion to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, donating their hard-earned money and time so that those who are suffering may soon find relief,” said Rangel. “This measure provides an immediate benefit for those who have already given and incentive for those who are considering a charitable contribution."

“To the extent that we can encourage additional giving sooner, by making these donations tax deductible, it is the right thing to do," added Camp. "I thank the Chairman for his work on this important legislation and hope all of our colleagues will support this bill as one small way of trying to help the victims of the earthquake.”

In January of 2005, Congress enacted this type of relief for individuals that made charitable contributions to victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami that occurred in late December of 2004. That bill passed the House of Representatives without objection and subsequently passed the Senate by unanimous consent.


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