President Obama signed legislation Friday evening that allows taxpayers to deduct their charitable contributions toward Haiti relief from their 2009 tax returns.
Both houses of Congress passed the legislation unanimously just days earlier, quite a feat considering the high level of partisan wrangling in Washington these days (see Senate Unanimously Approves Bill to Speed Haiti Tax Deductions). In the wake of Republican Scott Browns victory in the special Senate race to fill the late Ted Kennedys seat in Massachusetts, the partisan bickering may reach even higher levels now that the Democrats have lost their supposedly filibuster-proof 60-seat majority. Still, its encouraging to see one issue where the two parties can come together, especially when it means helping the people of Haiti recover from the devastating earthquake.
The White House noted that the legislation allows taxpayers to receive a tax benefit from donations to the Haiti effort this tax season, rather than needing to wait until they file their 2010 tax returns next year. Cash donations to charities for the Haitian relief effort given after January 11 and before March 1 of this year may be treated as if the contribution were made on December 31 of last year so the contribution can be deducted from 2009 income. The White House cautioned that the measure applies to monetary donations, not goods or services.
Another sign of bipartisanship is that President Obama has turned to two of his predecessors, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, to start the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, which is accepting contributions at ClintonBushHaitiFund.org.
The fund is one of the charities, along with Unicef, the American Red Cross, Yéle Haiti, the World Food Program, and Partners in Health that benefited from the Hope for Haiti concert that was televised across the world Friday evening not long after Obama signed the tax legislation. For more information, visit www.hopeforhaitinow.org.