January 05,2005

Baucus Pushes for Prompt Passage of Tsunami Relief

Relief Organizations Throw Support Behind Baucus’ Tax Proposal to Aid Relief Effort

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Today, U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont), continued to push for thequick passage of legislation that would extend the period of time Americans can make charitabledonations in order to assist victims of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Southeast Asia onDecember 26. The Baucus/Grassley measure has received widespread support from both partiesin Congress as well as backing from the charitable organizations coordinating the relief efforts inthe region.

Under this proposal, taxpayers would be permitted to claim a tax deduction in tax year2004 for 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 gifts madeduring January 2005.

“Americans are rising to the occasion and leading the world in assisting disaster victimsin Southeast Asia,” Baucus said. “Giving the American people an added incentive to make adonation to those in need will give us the opportunity to live up to its image as being acompassionate and benevolent country.”

Charitable organizations coordinating the relief efforts have asked for cash donations tomake the process more efficient. Cash donations reduce shipping costs of donated items beingsent from the United States and allow cash to flow into local economies generating growth. Theproposal will give Americans the opportunity to donate immediately and provide charities withthe cash support.

Today, charitable organizations joined Baucus in calling for quick passage of this tax bill."With a disaster of this magnitude, which has affected so many children, we need toencourage as many people as possible to help," said Charles J. Lyons, president of the U.S. Fundfor UNICEF. "The tsunami tax provision will help bring lifesaving support and care to childrenin the tsunami-struck countries, who are in desperate need of our assistance."Brian Gallagher, President and CEO of the United Way of America also offered hissupport for the legislation.

“I applaud this effort by Senators Baucus and Grassley since it provides extra andimmediate incentive for concerned individuals to act on their desire to help their neighbors --whether the individuals reside in their own communities or around the world,” said Gallagher.“As a representative of the global United Way system, which has banded together to supportlocal United Way affiliates and community partners in the affected areas, I hope that after theinitial rush to provide emergency aid and relief, there will also be generous support for therebuilding of the infrastructure on which the fragile fishing and tourist economies rely.”Diana Aviv, President and CEO of the Independent Sector discussed the importance ofCongressional leadership in the relief efforts.

“Americans have stepped up and given in response to the images of pain and suffering,digging deeply into their pockets to make immediate relief possible,” said Aviv. “Many membersof Congress have also responded with great compassion, and sought ways to encourage giving inthis time of great need. The proposals by Senator Grassley and Senator Baucus to make one-timelimited changes in the tax code to encourage additional giving toward relief, rehabilitation, andreconstruction is an example of constructive efforts by key leaders in Congress to increasesupport for disaster response.”

The bill will be introduced in the Senate tomorrow.