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2010 Haitian Relief Contributions to be Deducted on 2009 returns

    On January 21, the Senate by voice vote approved H.R. 4462, a bill that would allow donors to accelerate the income tax benefits of charitable cash contributions for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Haiti. The bill had previously been passed by the House on January 20 by voice. Accordingly, the bill is now cleared for signature by the President, which is expected this week.

    The bill would allow individuals who make charitable contributions to aid Haitian earthquake victims to elect to claim an itemized charitable deduction on their 2009 tax return (instead of the 2010 tax return).

    The election would apply only to Haitian relief contributions made in cash after Jan. 11, 2010, and before Mar. 1, 2010.

    For these contributions, a “telephone bill” would satisfy the Code Sec. 170(f)(17) recordkeeping requirements if it shows the name of the donee organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution.
In addition to claiming the contribution deduction by individuals for the current years there is an incentive for employers’ sponsored relief activities. The IRS has designated the Haiti earthquake, as a qualified disaster for purposes of the Code Sec. 139 exclusion for qualified disaster relief payments. Thus, employer-sponsored private foundations can assist certain victims in areas affected by the Haiti earthquake, and recipients of this assistance can exclude the relief payments from gross income.

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