Obama signs law allowing American donors to claim deductions on Yolanda donations

March 26, 2014
In The News

US President Barack Obama has signed into law a legislative measure allowing American taxpayers to claim deductions for donations they made to support relief and rehabilitation efforts in the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda in the Central Philippines.

The new law, called the Charitable Giving Assistance Act, would allow taxpayers who made donations to relief efforts in the Philippines from the period March 25 – the day the law was signed by Obama — to April 15 to claim charitable deductions when they file their 2013 tax returns.

Taxpayers who donate in this timeframe but have already filed their taxes can amend their tax returns to receive these benefits this year.

Yolanda, internationally-known as Haiyan, was one of the strongest storm recorded to hit land with tsunami-like storm surges that washed and damaged more than a million houses and left more than 6,000 people dead and nearly 2,000 missing.

The Philippines welcomed the enactment of the law, saying it “underscores the importance the US government places on the immediate recovery of typhoon-devastated areas in the Philippines.”

“I wish to reiterate the profound gratitude of the Philippine government and the Filipino people for the generous outpouring of support and solidarity by the US Government and the American people to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan,” Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Cuisia, Jr. said in a statement from Washington.

Without the law, taxpayers can claim a tax deduction for contributions they make to charities, but they receive the tax incentive many months later after they file their tax returns the following year. The new measure eliminates this delay.

The US, a Philippine military ally, was among the first countries to respond to the disaster by deploying troops, navy ships, aircraft and monetary aid after the storm wrought massive devastation across the Visayas region on Nov. 8.

To date, the US government has provided nearly P 4 billion or about $ 87.7 million in immediate humanitarian assistance for survivors.

The new law was introduced in the House of Representatives by California Rep. Eric Swalwell and was co-sponsored by 35 congressmen—26 Democrats and nine Republicans. It was unanimously passed as House Resolution 3771 on Monday.

At the US Senate, Resolution 1821, sponsored by Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, and supported by Majority Leader Harry Reid and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, among others, was passed on March 6.

At least 14 million people have been affected across the Central Philippines, and the United Nations said it will take several years before the devastated areas could fully recover.