Why I Am Not Claiming My Donation To The Haiti Relief Effort.

President Obama recently signed into law a bill that allows you to claim any donations you may have made to the Haiti relief effort on your tax return for last year (2009) or the current year (2010). If you donated any money between January 11th – March 1st, 2010, you can claim it on your return for either 2009 or 2010, whichever you want. Personally, I won’t be taking the deduction at all because I don’t feel it is right to give money to those less needy – and then take a write-off for it. I have the money to give, so I should give it without strings. I have always felt this way and have always donated money with the same intentions. My donations of “goods” to the Salvation Army or Goodwill are claimed, but any cash money donated is never claimed. Am I being foolish? Maybe. But it feels better to me to give the money without wanting any of it back, so I don’t ever claim it. I gave an entire day’s earnings from my sites to the relief effort and I don’t want any of it back from my own government; those people have nothing and I have a lot, in the grand scheme.


Do you claim your donations on your tax return? Like I said, I claim “goods” but I don’t claim cash money. I don’t give a lot of cash money to charities throughout the year, so when I do I don’t feel comfortable asking for some of it back when I have so much and they have so little. But most people do claim the donations, including most of my good friends. So maybe I am the weird one out!

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Comments (31)

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  1. Katharine says:

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to claim it and then re-donate the additonal funds you get with your return?

  2. I think you should take what you can get. If you don’t want the money that you’ll be getting back then donate that TOO. That way you can have the greatest effect.

    I don’t donate so that I can get a tax refund — that would be as foolish as buying a house for the tax write off — but both offer a nice side benefit.

  3. Abby says:

    Of course we do! But then, we’re fortunate to give enough in cash that it adds up.

    Even when the amount we gave was smaller, we claimed it. At the time, I worked in a university setting where statistics on charitable giving gathered from the IRS were used in a variety of ways.

    While I didn’t think of it until just now, I liked the idea that our $100 here, $100 there was added up and reflected in national data.

    Guess that makes ME weird. 🙂

  4. Peter says:

    You’re talking about getting money back. What money? Deducting something off your tax return simply mean that you pay less taxes. If you still owe money to the government, you will owe them slightly less. If you have overpaid your taxes, then you get a refund of the amount you have overpaid. But it makes no sense to pay taxes on money that you could legitimately deduct.

  5. Evan says:

    I am with the 2 comments before me – Do you think it is wiser to allow the gov’t to use your tax deductions? Grab the deduction and then choose to donate that amount.

  6. This makes no sense at all. Taking a charitable donation deduction on your tax return costs the charity nothing. And, as suggested above, you are free to donate your tax savings to the charity as well, which helps even more. You need to think through this again – this is a PF blog after all.

  7. David says:

    Not getting it back from the charity. Getting it back in money I otherwise would pay for things like roads, schools, libraries – and they need it.

  8. David says:

    I never said it costs the charity anything. Where did I say that? My point is, why donate if you want any % of it back in any form? Donating it again is a good idea, hadnt thought of that one. But still – it’s asking for a % back from somewhere else for money you gave.

  9. David says:

    This isn’t a govt vs me argument – anyone who reads this site knows that I am a liberal who actually doesnt mind paying the govt for schools, roads, libraries, and parks. Unfortunately, they also use my money for war – but I can’t pick and choose.

  10. mapgirl says:

    Oh. You know, I clicked through on this article because I thought you were doing what I am doing. I am not claiming my donations for Haitian relief on my 2009 tax return because I need the deduction for my 2010 return instead.

    If you can itemize your deduction and get money back, then why not?

    You can actually pick and choose which services you pay for with the government in a small way. After all your local government does not pay for defense, but your schools and trash pick up. Why not get the extra refund from the federal government and give it to your local public library or school? As a liberal, that seems just as wise a choice as any.

  11. Craig says:

    I disagree because regardless of any incentives of giving charity, the money is still going to help out the cause.

  12. Lynn says:

    Wow, this is one of the most ridiculous articles written by a pf blogger. If you itemize, you can legally take a deduction for any donations made. Why in the world wouldn’t you do this? They let you deduct many things include mortgage interest and your state taxes you have paid – would you not do this too? I don’t give money because I get a deduction but I do take advantage of the tax law that is there to encourage giving. Even still, at a marginal rate of 20%, I would only get a .20 reduction in my taxes for every dollar so its not that its a lot of money. But its a legal thing to do. Do what you want, but I personally find it pretty crazy.

  13. Evan says:


    “I am a liberal who actually doesnt mind paying the govt for schools, roads, libraries, and parks. Unfortunately, they also use my money for war ““ but I can’t pick and choose.”

    But you can pick and choose! All you have to do is ask for your charitable deduction and then write a check to your fav 501(c)(3) [most libraries] and then they get all your dollars with none of the garbage waste.

  14. David says:

    So the government should pay me back for helping out the needy?

  15. David says:

    Because I don’t believe, personally, that the government should pay me back for donating money to those in need.

  16. Peter says:

    I still fail to see how the government is paying you back. Please explain.

  17. David says:

    I give $1.00 to charity. I write off that dollar, and the government actually gives me back a % of the money I donated from their tax coffers. Why should the govt, who has nothing to do with the charity, have to pay me back any money I personally donated?

  18. David says:

    That’s a tiny % of the tax dollars I pay each year to the Feds – which I don’t get to choose.

  19. Melissa says:

    How about this: You earn $1.00. The government collects $0.35 in tax. You itemize and take the deduction and the government gives you $0.07 back (or whatever it turns out to be.) In the end you donate $1.07 to charity and pay $0.28 to the government.

  20. David: Unless you are making so little money that you are receiving refundable tax credits, claiming a charitable deduction does not cause the government to do anything except take less of your money. The government is not “giving” you anything. Use your head and use your money as you wish, not as the government wishes. Please.

  21. Peter says:

    Melissa has the general idea. But let’s get rid of tax withholding just to make it clearer. You make $1. At the end of the year, you pay the government $0.35 in tax. But wait, you paid $0.25 to charity, so therefore, you don’t have to count that income. So you really only made $0.75 and instead of paying $0.35 in taxes, you pay only $0.30, or whatever.
    As Mr ToughMoneyLove says, unless you are getting refundable tax credits, the government is not giving you any money.

  22. JoeTaxpayer says:

    I didn’t make a donation “to get the deduction.” But, in the big picture, the donations add up, and I’d rather decide where my money goes than let the government decide. So, in theory, if you were inclined to donate $1000 in cash, why not donate $1250 instead and take the Sch A deduction? Better the extra $250 goes to charity that Uncle Sam.

  23. David says:

    Mr “Tough Money” – Enough with the negativity and attacks. Do I attack you for being concerned with only making money, which I could care less about? How does my decision on this effect you at all?

    Thanks for the thoughts on this, everyone else. An opinion, or a choice, is just that – a choice. This effects no one but me, and I am more than willing to listen to what the rest of you had to say about why I should or shouldn’t do this, or what the benefit of either choice would be. So thank you!


  24. Wil says:


    As a Conservative who doesn’t like giving more to the government than absolutely necessary, I think you got it right.

    Many who are criticizing you are missing the point. At one time in history, people used to do good things because it was the right thing to do. There was no re-payment. Besides, unless you are really working with Bill and Melinda Gates’ type numbers, the extra effort probably doesn’t make that much difference to your tax bill.

    TML has a point, but not one that relates to your point.

  25. David says:

    Thank you Wil – that’s exactly it. Doing good means that you aren’t looking for something in return. 🙂

  26. Craig says:

    @David I disagree with that, doesn’t mean you can’t get nothing in return. This reminds me of an old Friends episode where Phoebe has the same thoughts as you. Then she helped someone out and one of the characters asked her how she feels, and she says “I feel really good about myself” and they said that’s selfish then. It was a joke because the reality is if you are helping you are helping. The people in Haiti could care less what the intentions behind any donations are, they just would like relief help.

  27. […] Why I Am Not Claiming My Donation To The Haiti Relief Effort. | My … […]

  28. Laurie says:

    It is amazing how upset people are getting about your tax deductions. I have to say I agree with you. I do not put down charitable contributions on my taxes at all. I give because I want to and I feel that it is the right thing to do. I also give anonymously because I don’t want any recognition I just want to help people out. Shouldn’t that be what it is all about? People helping out each other? Why get the gov’t involved in that?

  29. David says:

    They want government out of their lives…until they want something back for helping those in need. 😉 Listen, everyone can do what they want – this is what I do because I feel like it’s the right thing to do for me.

  30. […] Why I Am Not Claiming My Donation To The Haiti Relief Effort. | My … […]

  31. Quite a noble thought–and it makes sense.

    I write off every little bit of “goods” that I donate. However, like the author, I do not write off cash donations.

    It really is a great point.

    For once, I’ll refrain from getting every dime back that I can from the government.