Tax Tips: Donations Deadline Extended

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A new bill allows taxpayers who contribute to charities providing relief to Haiti between Jan. 12 and Feb. 28 to deduct the contribution on either their 2009 or 2010 Form 1040.

If you contributed $100 to the Red Cross last week you can add that $100 to the amount you deduct for contributions on your 2009 Schedule A.  Or you can wait and deduct it on your 2010 Schedule A.

Be aware – there is no tax benefit for making a charitable contribution to Haitian earthquake relief unless you can itemize your deductions on Schedule A.

You must be able to document the donation with a canceled check or credit card statement and/or a letter of acknowledgement from the organization. A phone bill with the date, name of charity and amount of the donation will be acceptable as documentation if you made a donation via text.

You must give the cash or property to a qualified charitable organization. There is no deduction for sending a check to a specific individual or family in Haiti. Be careful of scams and cons that often spring up in such situations. It is best to donate to established, well-known charities.

If you do claim a deduction for a contribution on your 2009 federal income tax return be sure that you do not also claim a deduction for the contribution on your 2010 return.

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