House Passes Bill to Make Haiti Donations Deductible This Year

The House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill that would allow taxpayers to claim a charitable deduction on their 2009 tax returns for donations made to the Haiti earthquake relief effort.

The change is similar to one Congress enacted in early 2005 for donations to the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami that occurred in the last week of 2004. The Senate introduced a related bill Wednesday for Haiti contributions.

"We all witnessed the horrendous event that took place in our hemisphere last week and have united in a bipartisan way to do what we can to ease the pain of those who are suffering in Haiti," Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement.

The bill would allow anyone who donates to the Haiti relief effort to deduct the contribution on their 2009 return as opposed to waiting until next year to deduct on their 2010 return. It includes a provision to allow anyone who sent a donation via text message to use their phone bill as proof.

Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., ranking member on the committee, urged Congress to quickly send it to the president's desk.

"To the extent this legislation can encourage Americans to increase what has already been an outpouring of generous support for the people of Haiti, it deserves the support of every member of this House, the Senate and the president's immediate signature," he said.