Charitable Deduction Rules for Disasters

By | March 23, 2015

That was an overview of the basic rules about charitable contributions. But sometimes these rules are temporarily superseded by special rules and regulations. For example, Congress can enact special rules for a particular disaster. One type of legislation like that was enacted on January 22 of this year by President Obama who signed into law the Haiti Assistance Income Tax Incentive Act. This legislation allowed taxpayers to choose to deduct certain contributions made in the calendar year 2010 on their 2009 return instead of their 2010 return which won’t be filed until next year.


New Charitable Deduction Rules

In order to take those charitable contributions made in 2010 on their 2009 return, those contributions had to have been made after January 11, 2010, and before March 1, 2010, and they had to have been made for the relief of victims in the areas affected by the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti.


What is the Heartland Disaster Relief Act?

A second type of legislation, the Heartland Disaster Relief Act, was enacted after severe storms, flooding, and tornadoes occurred in the Midwestern states in the summer of 2008. It made it easier for individuals and businesses to engage in charity on behalf of those affected by that disaster. In that particular case, the normal contribution limits—the percentage limitations—were suspended in order to allow individuals and businesses to give more than they normally would. In addition, the legislation set a higher standard mileage rate for taxpayers who used their vehicles to provide charitable services for those individuals in that Midwestern storm disaster area. It was only a temporary increase in the standard mileage rate. It was enacted by Congress in order to raise that mileage rate temporarily, but it’s back down to 14 cents now. A third type of legislation was the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act.


IRS Storm Relief Legislation

The intent of this type of legislation was to help victims deal with their losses and to make it easier for those around the country to help out the victims of the Katrina disaster. To find out what special rules might be in place for a particular disaster situation, you can look at the IRS website. If you click on the ‘Around the Nation’ link from the ‘Newsroom’ page on the IRS website, the link there will lead you to information about a particular disaster. It will describe any tax relief or special rules for people responding to those particular disasters.