January 06,2005

Baucus and Grassley Applaud Passage of Proposal to Aid Tsunami Victims

Senators Say Legislation Encourages Charitable Donations for Relief Effort

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont), Ranking Member of the SenateFinance Committee, joined by Chairman Grassley, applauded the passage of tax legislation toallow extra time for Americans to make cash donations to charities supporting relief operationsin the Indian Ocean basin. The measure was passed by unanimous consent in both the Senateand the House. Baucus proposed this legislation on Tuesday.

Under the new law, taxpayers will be permitted to claim a tax deduction in tax year 2004for cash donations made before January 31, 2005, for tsunami disaster relief. Under current law,taxpayers would have to wait until 2006 to claim a tax deduction for tsunami-related giftsmade after December 31, 2004.

“The passage of this legislation will be a great benefit to those in need,” Baucus said. “Icommend my Congressional colleagues for prompt and timely action on this bill. The Americanpeople are some of the most generous in the world, and this proposal will give them an extraincentive to support this great cause. Today, Americans have been given an even greateropportunity to support the relief efforts currently underway to help victims of the Indian Oceantsunami.”

Grassley said, “I appreciate the quick action on this proposal. Americans continue togive generously to tsunami relief, and I hope this extension will encourage them to give evenmore. I also hope Americans will make sure the charities they choose are above board. Asexperts predicted, some con artists are trying to turn a profit on this tragedy. Investigators arelooking into potential scams involving the sale of relief bracelets and unsolicited e-mails askingfor money to help find loved ones missing after the tsunami. My message to donors is simple.Don’t buy a relief bracelet from or give money to groups you don’t recognize. The BetterBusiness Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, GuideStar, the Independent Sector, and others haveresources online to guide giving. A little research can go a long way toward stopping crooks intheir tracks. Give your money to the needy, not the greedy.”

Charitable organizations have been issuing support of the tax proposal since it wasannounced earlier this week. Today, those coordinating relief efforts praised the legislation’sfinal passage. The Catholic Relief Services released this statement regarding the tax proposal.

"Catholic Relief Services supports this legislation and appreciates the efforts of SenatorsGrassley and Baucus in introducing it. Given the terrible effects of the tsunami, CRS believes itis critical to provide as much support as possible to victims of the region, particularlyconsidering that the needs for long-term reconstruction will be enormous. Each year as thedeadline for making tax-deductible donations approaches, many donors express their preferenceto us to receive a tax deduction for their charitable gift in the current tax year. By extending the2004 deadline to January 31, we expect that many donors will choose to respond with givingpatterns similar to the traditional deadline at the end of the calendar year."

The legislation approved by Congress today will be sent to President for his signature.