2009 Tax Deduction for 2010 Haiti Earthquake Donations

January 26, 2010

The tragic events recently suffered in Haiti have spurred millions of dollars in donations from American taxpayers to relief agencies devoted to helping earthquake victims. Through special legislation enacted on January 22, 2010, those taxpayers will generally be able to claim those deductions on their 2009 returns. It is hoped that the immediate benefit will spur even more current donations.

However, there are some limitations. 

  • First, because donations to qualified charities are considered itemized deductions, the new provision will be unavailable to taxpayers who utilize the standard deduction. 
  • Second, qualifying contributions are limited to cash and do not include property donations.  Qualifying  cash contributions can be made by text message, check, credit card or debit card. 
  • Third, to qualify, donations must be made specifically for the relief of victims in areas affected by the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and they must be made after January 11, 2010 and before March 1, 2010. 
  • Fourth, the donations must be made to bona fide, qualified charities. The IRS maintains a database of such charities, but many churches and government agencies qualify even though they are not listed. 
  • Please also note that donations to foreign organizations are generally not deductible. 

Finally, it is also important to keep a record of your donation. For donations by text message, the phone bill will suffice as long as the name of the charitable organization is listed.