On Friday, January 22, 2010, President Obama signed into law a bill allowing taxpayers who made charitable contributions to the Haiti earthquake relief efforts to claim an itemizable deduction on their 2009 Tax Returns instead of waiting until next year to claim the deduction.

The legislation also includes a provision that allows individuals who sent their contributions via text message to use their phone bills as proof of their contribution.  The bill must contain the name of the charitable organization and the date and amount of the contribution.

The legislation was introduced by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) and a host of other co-sponsors.  Though not obligated to do so, charities assisting in the Haiti relief effort may want to make their donors aware of the possibility of the acceleration of deductions.

The IRS also announced on Friday that it has issued guidance designating the Haiti earthquake as a natural disaster for federal tax purposes.  The guidance allows recipients of qualified disaster relief payments to exclude those payments from income tax.  The guidance also allows employer-sponsored private foundations to assist employee victims in areas affected by the earthquake in Haiti without affecting their tax-exempt status.

For additional information on disaster relief, please refer to the IRS Publication 3833 on Disaster Relief and other disaster relief resources for charities and contributors on the IRS website.