Today, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) that provides expedited tax relief for Americans making charitable donations in support of Typhoon Haiyan recovery efforts in the Philippines. The bipartisan Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act is intended to spur donations to charitable organizations by allowing taxpayers who donate to the relief efforts to receive tax benefits nearly a year faster than usual. The bill was also introduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Eric Swalwell (CA-15) and Mike Thompson (CA-05), who will be working to get the bill a vote in the coming months.
"The Philippines still need our help. I am proud to represent more than 100,000 Filipino-Americans living in Nevada, and this bipartisan bill will spur donations to continue to assist in the relief and reconstruction efforts from this destructive storm," said Reid.
"Nearly four months have passed since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, leaving behind up to 6,000 dead, almost 1,800 missing and more than a million destroyed homes. This continues to be a heartbreaking situation, and I was moved by the stories shared with me by Filipino American community advocates this January of their experiences touring damage in the Philippines. Given the great deal of help still needed, the Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act will provide tax relief this year for families who have already donated and incentivize others to make new contributions," said Hirono.
"The Philippines suffered a great deal of devastation from Typhoon Haiyan, and it's no secret the aftermath has left a tremendous burden on everyone impacted. The Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act will provide tax relief for Americans who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to support the recovery efforts. I am grateful for Senator Hirono's hard work on this legislation and I hope it inspires more Americans to continue their generous giving," said Heller.
"Given the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines needs as much assistance as Americans can provide and this bill will help taxpayers s they seek to alleviate that suffering -- it's a win win," said Menendez.
The Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act is supported by groups such as the Consuelo Foundation and Filipino Community Center.
"It has been truly heartbreaking to witness the death and destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Many families are still struggling to rebuild their lives, facing displacement and hunger. Everybody can make a difference, even if it's donating just a little bit. Mahalo to Senator Hirono and her colleagues for encouraging Americans to contribute," said Edmund Aczon, Chairman of the Filipino Community Center Board of Directors.
While there was an immediate outpouring of donations and other assistance following the immense destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan this November, the length of the rebuilding process means contributions are still needed now and in the months ahead. The tax code provides a delayed incentive for making charitable contributions. 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 Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act eliminates this delay. The bill would allow taxpayers who donate to the relief efforts in the Philippines before April 15, 2014 to take the charitable deduction when they file their2013 tax returns.
Reid, Hirono, and Heller, have also worked to support Typhoon Haiyan recovery efforts by calling on the Obama Administration to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Filipino nationals currently residing in the United States. Designed as an emergency measure for nations facing extreme hardships, TPS would allow Filipino nationals without permanent resident status to continue to stay in the US and provide working authorization temporarily until TPS status ends. Hirono also recently penned an op-ed in The Hill to drum up support for TPS and the Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act.