Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Bill Signed by President Obama Allows Taxpayers to Claim Haiti-Related Contributions on 2009 Tax Return

/PRNewswire/ -- Taxpayers wishing to lend their support to relief efforts in Haiti now have an additional incentive to do so, thanks to new legislation signed into law by President Obama.

Through the new bill, H.R. 4462, taxpayers have two options regarding monetary contributions for Haitian Earthquake Relief. They can either deduct contributions made after January 11, 2010 and before March 1, 2010 on their 2009 return or can wait and claim the deduction on their 2010 return. In addition to allowing the contributions to be deducted on a 2009 tax return, the bill also includes a provision that recognizes donations made to a charitable organization via text message, provided that a copy of the phone bill showing the date, time, organization name, and donation amount is available.

"The nation of Haiti is suffering a devastating humanitarian crisis, and millions of Americans have already been moved to donate money to charities that are taking part in relief efforts," said Mark Steber, Chief Tax Officer, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. "Having the President specifically designate that Haiti-related monetary contributions may be acknowledged on a 2009 tax return, even though the calendar year has passed, is a powerful way to encourage this kind of giving - while also reminding taxpayers of the financial benefits of charitable contributions."

Here are some tips from Jackson Hewitt on how to make and record charitable donations and claim them on a 2009 tax return:

-- There are several ways to make a tax-deductible contribution to a
qualified charitable organization: through a cash payment, a check, a
credit card charge or by making a payroll deduction to a charity. The
Internal Revenue Service allows taxpayers to search for a qualified
organization on its Web site at

-- Keep records of your donations. Acceptable records include a receipt
from the organization that states the date, name, address, location,
and amount of the donation; a cancelled check; or other bank documents
that provide the same information.

-- Don't forget to claim all the household items and clothing you donated
to your church, school, or other local charity during the year. The
fair-market value of all items in good or better condition that are
donated to a qualified organization are deductible. Make sure you
keep a list of all items donated and their value when you contributed

-- If you volunteer, you can also deduct out-of-pocket expenses you have
that are directly related to your volunteer work.

-- Out-of-pocket expenses include mileage related to charitable work
(at present, 14 cents per mile), the cost of uniforms required
while doing the volunteer work (such as for scout leaders, EMTs,
firefighters, etc), and any supplies needed to do this work.
Remember to keep your receipts with the date and the
organization's name for your records.

-- If you are claiming mileage, make sure you have a record of the
miles driven, the date, and the organization's name. You should
also indicate starting point and destination.

"Charitable contributions claimed on a 2009 tax return must have been contributed in the 2009 tax year," notes Steber. "The new Haiti legislation is an exception."

More information about charitable contributions can be found on the Jackson Hewitt web site at To find a nearby office or speak with a local tax preparer, call 1-800-234-1040.

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