People who give to charities providing earthquake relief in Haiti can claim the donations this year under recently adopted tax provisions, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
Taxpayers who itemize deductions on their 2009 return qualify for the special tax relief provision, which was enacted January 22, according to the IRS. Only cash contributions made to these charities after January 11, 2010, and before March 1, 2010, are eligible. This includes contributions made by text message, check, credit card or debit card.
"Americans have opened their hearts to help those affected by the Haiti earthquake," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said in a prepared statement. "This new law provides an immediate tax benefit for the many taxpayers who have made generous donations."
The new law only applies to cash, as opposed to property, contributions, according to the IRS. The contributions must be made specifically for the relief of victims in areas affected by the January 12 earthquake in Haiti. Taxpayers have the option of deducting these contributions on either their 2009 or 2010 returns, but not both. To get a tax benefit, taxpayers must itemize their deductions on Schedule A. Those who claim the standard deduction, including all short-form filers, are not eligible.
The IRS noted that taxpayers need to be sure their contributions go to qualified charities. Most organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible donations are listed in a searchable online database available on IRS.gov under "Search for Charities."
Some organizations, such as churches or governments, may be qualified even though they are not listed on IRS.gov, according to the IRS. Donors can find out more about organizations helping Haitian earthquake victims from agencies such as USAID at www.usaid.gov. Contributions to foreign organizations generally are not deductible, according to the IRS.