Donating to Haiti quake-relief charities

If you are donating to charities providing earthquake relief in Haiti, you may be able to claim those donations on your 2009 tax return even though the quake was in 2010. To be eligible, donations must be made after Jan. 11, 2010, and before March 1.

To be deductible, contributions must be made to qualified charities and cannot be designated for the benefit of specific individuals or families. The rules apply only to cash contributions. Cash contributions made by text message, check, credit card or debit card may be claimed on your federal tax return.

You must itemize your deductions to claim these donations on your tax return.

You have the option of deducting these contributions on either your 2009 or 2010 tax return, but not both.

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Contributions made to foreign organizations generally are not deductible. You can find out more about organizations helping Haitian earthquake victims from agencies such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (www.usaid.gov).

For donations by text message, a telephone bill will meet the record-keeping requirement if it shows the name of the organization receiving your donation, the date of the contribution and the amount.

For cash contributions made by other means, be sure to keep a canceled check or a receipt.

For more information see IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions and Publication 3833, Disaster Relief: Providing Assistance through Charitable Organizations. To see if an organization is a qualified charity visit www.irs.gov, keyword “Search for Charities.”

— Internal Revenue Service