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Deducting your charitable contributions

By Gerri Willis, personal finance editor


NEW YORK (CNN) -- 1. Deduct your contributions now

The Senate just passed a new bill that will let you deduct the donations you sent to Haiti relief efforts in THIS tax season. President Obama is expected to sign this into law as soon as next week. A similar measure passed after the Tsunami in 2005.

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There are rules though. For example, you must have contributed to the Haitian crisis from January 11 to March 1st. A lot of folks donated to organizations via text messaging. This bill also allows taxpayers to substantiate deductions made by cell phone with a phone bill that shows the date, amount and name of the organization receiving the contribution.

2. Future tax benefits

After Hurricane Katrina, there were a number of tax benefits. And some of those benefits could be reinstated. For example, in this tax year, it may be easier for individuals and corporations to deduct the value of food donations. The IRS typically has strict rules about deducting food donations.

Of course, it's important to know just what you CAN'T deduct too. Aid to an individual, a foreign government or donations to overseas charities with no presence in the U.S. does not qualify for a deduction.

Make sure you collect receipts from all the charities you donate to. For a list of charities helping out in Haiti, go to CNN.com/impact.

-- CNN's Jen Haley contributed to this article. To top of page

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