New law allows early deduction for Haiti relief contributions

Posted on Feb 2, 2010

On January 22, President Obama signed a law that could give you an early tax deduction for contributions you make for earthquake relief in Haiti.

If you itemize deductions on your return, you may elect to take a charitable deduction on your 2009 return for contributions you made for qualified Haiti disaster relief. The contributions must have been made after January 11, 2010, and before March 1, 2010.

The law also provides another way to substantiate these charitable contributions. Normally, you would need a bank record or written communication from the charity to back up your deduction. However, under the new law if you make a monetary contribution through your cell phone via a text message, you may use your telephone bill to substantiate your contribution. The telephone bill must show the name of the charitable organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution.

If you claim a Haiti relief deduction on your 2009 return, you may not also claim it on your 2010 return (which you will be filing in 2011). You should compare the tax benefit of a 2009 deduction or a 2010 deduction. For 2009, higher-income taxpayers have a limit on their total itemized deductions. This limit is eliminated for 2010, so the deduction may actually provide a bigger tax break if taken on your 2010 tax return.

If you need additional information or filing assistance, please contact our office.

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