On Friday evening, President Obama signed a bill the House passed last week to provide an immediate benefit for those who have already given and incentive for those who are considering a charitable contribution for Haiti relief efforts:
The new law allows individuals making a charitable contribution after January 11th and before March 1st to victims of the earthquake in Haiti to claim these charitable contributions on their 2009 tax return instead of having to wait until next year to claim these deductions on their 2010 tax return.
A new tax relief law allows people who contributed in 2010 to charities providing earthquake relief in Haiti to take a tax deduction for the contribution on their 2009 tax return instead of their 2010 return. This means you can receive an immediate tax benefit, rather than having to wait until you file next year's return. Certain requirements apply:
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 card or debit card.
The contributions must be made specifically for the relief of victims in areas affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti.
You may deduct these contributions on either your 2009 or 2010 returns, but not both.
In addition, the general rules about tax deductions for charitable donations apply:
You must itemize your deductions on Schedule A; those claiming the standard deduction, including all short-form filers, are not eligible.
You must keep a record of any deductible donations you make.
For donations by text message, a telephone bill will meet the requirement if it shows the name of the donee organization and the date and 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.
Contributions to foreign organizations generally are not deductible.
Make sure your contribution goes to a qualified charity. Most organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible donations are listed in a searchable, online database available under Search for Charities. Some organizations, such as churches or governments, may be qualified even though they're not listed on IRS.gov.