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Wednesday September 26, 2018

Washington News

Washington Hotline

Making Gifts to Help Disaster Victims

Hurricane season is now underway. It ordinarily lasts from June 1 to November 30 each year.

In IR-2018-132, the Service cautioned taxpayers about scammers who prey on generous donors following natural disasters. Many donors with good hearts and noble intentions plan to help victims in response to widespread media coverage of hurricanes and other natural disasters.

There are two key points to the Service's guidance. Donors should try to avoid fraudulent schemes and should ensure their gifts are made to qualified charities.

Fraudsters will usually initiate contact by phone, social media or email. They often use organization names similar to well-known and respected charities.

The scammer may direct a donor to a website with a name similar to a recognized nonprofit. In some cases, the fraudster claims to represent the IRS and asks for gifts in order to assist victims with tax refunds.

The IRS offers toll-free disaster assistance on 866-562-5227. If you have questions about disaster-related tax issues, the IRS may be able to assist you.

Donors should ensure gifts are made to legitimate charities. The IRS website has been recently updated with a new search tool. You can use the Tax Exempt Organization Search to identify a qualified charity.

After you identify a qualified charity, you may send a check or make an online contribution with your credit card. Each year, more and more donors appreciate the convenience of making online gifts for disaster relief or to their favorite charity.

Published June 8, 2018

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Any tax consequences described on this page are based on U.S. federal tax law. Charitable deductions from state and local taxes or from Canadian and provincial taxes may not be available to the same extent as from U.S. federal taxes. The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) does not provide legal advice. Donors are encouraged to seek independent tax and legal counsel. You may read JFNA's charitable solicitation disclosure statement here and important information about endowment gifts and bequests to JFNA here.