"Americans have opened their hearts to help those affected by the Haiti earthquake," said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman." 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. The contributions must be made specifically for the relief of victims in areas affected by the Jan. 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.
Taxpayers should 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. Donors can find out more about organizations helping Haitian earthquake victims from agencies such as USAID.
The IRS reminds donors that contributions to foreign organizations generally are not deductible. IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, provides information on making contributions to charities.
This year’s special Haiti relief provision is modeled on a 2005 law that, in the wake of the Dec. 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami, allowed taxpayers to deduct donations they made during January 2005 as if they made the donations in 2004.