CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. __ is being considered on the floor on Wednesday, January 20, 2010, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) on January 19, 2010, and referred to the Ways and Means Committee, which took no official action.
H.R. __ would allow qualifying charitable donations for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti that are made between January 11, 2010, and March 1, 2010, to be treated as if such contributions were made in 2009, rather than in 2010. The bill defines an eligible contribution as "a cash contribution made for the relief of victims in areas affect by the earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010."
On January 12, 2010, a catastrophic earthquake struck the impoverished island nation of Haiti. There is major damage to Port-au-Prince, the capital, including several government buildings. Over three million people are estimated to be affected by the earthquake, and while estimates vary at least 65,000 people were killed, according to the Government of Haiti. President Obama has pledged millions in aid to Haiti and tasked Rajiv Shah, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator, to coordinate the U.S. relief and rescue mission. The rescue and recovery efforts are still in full-effect, with the U.S. leading the international response and working to save lives and aid those injured. On January 18 alone, the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (USAID/DART) reported that U.S. urban search and rescue (USAR) teams had rescued approximately 40 individuals from collapsed buildings in just 12 hours. According to USAID, to date, "international USAR teams have rescued more than 70 individuals throughout Port-au-Prince, an unprecedented tally for a five-day USAR operation."
The U.S. government has provided $114 million in humanitarian assistance to Haiti following the earthquake and U.S. citizens and corporations have provided millions more in private donations. The underlying legislation is meant to encourage more donations for the people of Haiti by accelerating the tax benefit for certain charitable cash contributions made for the victims of the earthquake. According to the Ways and Means Committee, a similar provision passed in the immediate aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2005, and reduced revenue by $2 million over ten years. The legislation is co-sponsored by Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member, Rep. Dave Camp.
A CBO cost estimate of the underlying legislation was not available as of press time.