January 05,2005

Baucus Urges Quick Passage of Proposal to Aid Tsunami Victims

Senators McCain and Clinton Join Baucus in Pushing for Quick Congressional Action

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Today, Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont), ranking member of the SenateFinance Committee, urged quick Congressional action for a tax proposal that would extend theperiod of time Americans can make charitable donations in order to assist victims of thedevastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Southeast Asia on December 26. Senator Baucusannounced the tax proposal yesterday, and was joined by Chairman Grassley.

“A little over a week ago, the world endured a tragedy of epic proportions,” said Baucus.“Americans want to know how they can help to alleviate the pain suffered by victims of thisdisaster and rewarding them with a tax deduction will make it easier for cash donations to reachthose in need quickly. Giving individuals an even greater incentive to give during the next monthwill help mobilize the great relief work currently underway in Southeast Asia.”

Under this proposal, taxpayers would be permitted to claim a tax deduction in tax year2004 for donations made for tsunami disaster relief until January 31, 2005. Under current law,taxpayers would have to wait until 2006 season to claim a tax deduction for tsunami related giftsmade after December 31, 2004. The proposal would cost under $2 million and will beintroduced in the Senate tomorrow. Baucus noted this is a small price to pay for the amount ofcash that will be generated to assist in clean-up efforts.

Organizations coordinating relief efforts have specifically asked for cash donations. Cashdonations reduce shipping costs of relief items being transported from the United States andallow cash to flow into local economies stimulating growth. This tax proposal will giveAmericans an added incentive to donate immediately and provide charities with cash support.

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz) touted the legislation as a commonsense approach to dealwith the devastating events in the region.

"I am pleased to join my colleagues in cosponsoring this important piece of legislation,”said McCain. “As the death toll continues to rise in South Asia, we need to do all we can toencourage Americans in their efforts to provide much needed aid in the tsunami relief effort. Ihave no doubt that the American people will continue to prove to the world that we remain themost generous and compassionate nation on earth. The costs associated with the overwhelmingloss of life and property in the region more than merit approval of this exception to our normalpractices. I applaud Senators Grassley and Baucus for their commonsense approach to thisterrible problem."

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) offered similar praise for the legislation.

“As the efforts to raise financial support for the victims of this tragedy begin, it important that asmuch relief as possible is secured in these coming, critical weeks in order to prevent furthercatastrophe,” said Clinton. “Many New Yorkers have had family members and friends affectedby this disaster and everything must be done in order to move the relief and recovery effortsforward. I am proud to cosponsor this legislation as it will build upon the abundant goodwill ofthe American people and will help ensure that this much needed aid is delivered as quickly aspossible.”