Taxpayers have until midnight on Sunday, Feb. 28, to make cash contributions to charities providing earthquake relief in Haiti and deduct them on their 2009 tax returns, under the provision of the Haiti Assistance Income Tax Incentive Act, PL 111-126. Contributions made after that date and before the end of 2010 can be deducted on 2010 returns.
The act, which was signed into law on Jan. 22, allows taxpayers to deduct contributions made for the relief of victims in areas affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti on their 2009 tax returns instead of on their 2010 returns. To be eligible for an accelerated deduction, the contributions must be made after Jan. 11, 2010, and before March 1, 2010, and meet the requirements of IRC § 170.
According to the IRS, donations charged to a credit card before the end of February count for 2009, even if the taxpayer does not pay the credit card bill until after Feb. 28. Checks count for 2009 as long as they are mailed by the end of February and clear the financial institution shortly thereafter.
The special provision for deductibility of Haiti donations applies only to cash donations and not to contributions of property. To be eligible, contributions must be made specifically for the relief of victims in areas affected by the Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake. Gifts made directly to individual victims are not deductible. To get a tax benefit, taxpayers must itemize their deductions on Schedule A.