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Gifting to Haiti

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The recent disaster in Haiti has resulted in some questions about charitable gifting.  Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when gifting to charities, especially in times of disaster.  Avoid newly formed charities and those that have never worked in the disaster area.  Also avoid giving directly to people claiming to be a victim, telemarketers, and unsolicited e-mails.  Several new websites have been created since the Haiti disaster and some are scams - be careful.  Research your charity of choice and review their official website.  There are many charities working in Haiti and most have different goals.  Some are providing food, shelter, or immediate medical needs but others are focused on the long-term rebuilding effort.  If you consider making a gift of actual supplies, verify that the charity has the ways and means to transport the donations to the disaster area.  Pick the charity that matches your goals and designate your gift for this specific disaster if that is important to you. 

Several companies are offering to match retiree and employee donations to Haiti.  For example, Procter & Gamble is matching donations up to $250,000 to their Haiti Relief Fund that are made by March 1, 2010.

There have been some recent changes in the tax law that may impact your charitable giving.  The tax provision allowing qualified charitable distributions from an IRA expired at the end of 2009.  This provision allowed individuals age 70½ and older to exclude from income distributions made directly to a qualified charity.  Congress may extend this provision but at this point they have not.

Just signed into law on January 22nd, cash donations to a qualified charity for the Haiti disaster made by March 1, 2010 can be deducted on your 2009 tax return.  You may choose whether to claim this deduction in 2009 or 2010, depending on what is most advantageous to your situation. If you need help with charitable donations or have any questions regarding this information, please contact us.