WASHINGTON, DC-The House of Representatives today unanimously approved HR 4462, bipartisan legislation to allow individuals who make charitable contributions to the relief effort in Haiti to claim the donations as an itemized charitable deduction on their 2009 tax return.  Absent this change, taxpayers would need to wait until next year to claim a deduction for these contributions on their 2010 tax return.  The bill was offered by House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor along with Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) and Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI).  Text of the legislation is available here and a list of original cosponsors is here.   Congress passed similar legislation (HR 241) in January of 2005 in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami.   Below are Clyburn’s remarks during debate on the legislation:

“Thank you, Chairman Rangel, for yielding me this time.  I want to thank you and Mr. Camp for bringing this legislation forward. I want to thank the Minority Whip, Mr. Cantor, for joining with us in making this a truly bipartisan effort. I also want to thank the 162 co-sponsors, original co-sponsors, of this legislation.

“I believe that all of us who are familiar with the various areas of our great country know that it all depends upon where you live as to what kind of catastrophic event you can expect to visit your community. For many of us it may be a dust storm. For others like my area of the country, it’s hurricanes. For others, it could very well be an earthquake.

“All of us are but the sum total of our experiences. I believe that it is this vast and broad level of experiences that the people of these United States of America are going to call upon in order to respond to the people of Haiti. And for us to offer all Americans the opportunity to deduct on their 2009 taxes any contribution they make to this effort by the 28th of February, will go a long way toward incenting the kind of behavior we think is very, very important.

“I want to thank the sponsors of this legislation. It is one way that we can say to the people of this nation that Americans do not just sympathize with them, but we empathize as well. Thank you, Madam Speaker. I yield back my time.”