The House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation Wednesday that would allow individuals who make charitable contributions to victims of the earthquake in Haiti to claim an itemized charitable deduction on their 2009 tax return instead of having to wait until next year to claim the deductions on their 2010 tax return.

The legislation also includes a provision allowing those who text-messaged a donation the ability to use a phone bill as proof of their donation. The bipartisan bill was introduced Tuesday by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., and Ranking Member Dave Camp, R-Mich., who were joined by Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., and 152 additional original cosponsors. 

“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,” said Rangel in a statement. “Working together with Ranking Member Camp, and Whips Clyburn and Cantor, we developed this legislation to make it easier, and encourage people, to donate to the relief efforts in Haiti and I thank my colleagues for their strong support in the House today.”

“The House bill will benefit those who make monetary contributions and who can itemize their deductions,” said CCH principal federal tax analyst Mark Luscombe. “Similar legislation was enacted after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.”

One novel feature of the House bill is that it allows taxpayers to substantiate deductions made by cell phone with a record from their cellular provider showing the date, amount and name of the organization receiving the contribution.

The Senate is expected to pass the bill as it is received from the House, but further legislation may be in the offing.

“Some provisions enacted for Katrina relief just expired at the end of last year, and Congress may want to revisit them,” said Luscombe.

CCH has issued a Special Tax Briefing on the legislation. To read the briefing, click here.

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