A new law passed on January 22 allows people who donate to charities providing earthquake relief in Haiti to claim those donations on their 2009 tax returns. Only cash contributions made after January 11, 2010 and before March 1, 2010 are eligible. This includes contributions made by text message, check, credit card or debit card. Obviously, this only benefits taxpayers who itemize their deductions.
All you have to do is claim the donations on Schedule A of your 2009 tax return just as if they were made in 2009. You are still required to keep a receipt with your tax records. If you made a donation by text message, you can keep a copy of your phone bill as your tax receipt. If you gave a cash contribution, you’ll need either a receipt from the charity, a canceled check, or a bank statement. Finally, remember that this law is only for cash contributions – non-cash contributions do not qualify for this special treatment.
So you’ve still got a couple weeks to make charitable donations that you can count for 2009 – as long as they’re for Haiti earthquake relief efforts. However, be very careful about which charities you give to as many scammers are taking advantage of the situation and stealing donations using false charities. Your best option is to stick with well-known charities or charities you’ve donated to in the past. Make sure you initiate the donation yourself rather than giving out your information on the phone or via email. A couple of suggestions I can give you for good charities are Mennonite Central Committee and YWAM Haiti Relief Fund.
As you know, I was in Haiti on a short-term mission trip just a few days after the earthquake happened. I met many great people while I was there, so I’m interested to hear how you’re helping the people of Haiti. Share your story in the comments if you’d like!