|I received this email today with an update on AmeriCares relief effort drawing on private donations since the tsunami disaster:
. . . AmeriCares has been able to reach millions of survivors with life-saving medicines, medical supplies and other vitally needed aid.
To date AmeriCares has delivered seven airlifts, carrying 160 tons of medicine, emergency supplies and water purification treatments, worth $12 million to Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.
Over 1,500,000 people will benefit from our life-saving medicine and 56,500,000 liters of clean water.
Relief teams in Banda Aceh, Indonesia; Colombo, Sri Lanka; and Chennai, India are working with local partners and the Ministries of Health to ensure that our life-saving medicines and supplies are reaching local doctors and hospitals
Now our relief efforts are shifting from rescue to helping the survivors:
â€¢ Many wells and local water supplies are contaminated, so AmeriCares is working to bring clean, safe water to those most vulnerable. The standing water is also a breeding ground for mosquitoes, so we are supplying medicine for malaria.
â€¢ With unsafe water, millions of people are at risk for diseases such as dysentery and cholera. We are distributing antibiotics and other life-saving medicine for treating those impacted by the tsunami, who have lost so much.
â€¢ Many hospitals and laboratories were destroyed, so we are working to re-equip and refurbish them.
For all of us this tsunami tragedy is a painful reminder of the humbling power of nature and the fragility of life. . . .
This is a small reminder of how much these charities are able to accomplish and how much need is out there for that help. Anyone who hasn't donated yet really should examine whether they are able to help out financially.
If I am not mistaken*, the US Congress has passed a bill that allows taxpayers to apply charitable donations for relief of the Indian Ocean tsunami made in January 2005 to their 2004 taxes (that is, to deduct the donation made in January 2005 from their 2004 tax burden) as if such contributions were made on December 31, 2004.
The text of the bill reads as follows:
SECTION 1. ACCELERATION OF INCOME TAX BENEFITS FOR CHARITABLE CASH CONTRIBUTIONS FOR RELIEF OF INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI VICTIMS.
(a) IN GENERAL.--For purposes of section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, a taxpayer may treat any contribution described in subsection (b) made in January 2005 as if such contribution was made on December 31, 2004, and not in January 2005.
(b) CONTRIBUTION DESCRIBED.--A contribution is described in this subsection if such contribution is a cash contribution made for the relief of victims in areas affected by the December 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami for which a charitable contribution deduction is allowable under section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
* Note: this is NOT legal advice and should not be construed as such. Anyone wishing to make use of this new provision needs to consult with the tax code or with their accounts and/or tax lawyers. I am merely pointing out something that is being done to encourage people to help. I haven't even checked to see if the President has signed this into law.