Millions of Americans have donated generously to help out with earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, and members of Congress are now trying to take some steps to reward their generosity while encouraging further giving.

This week, lawmakers unveiled the Haiti Assistance Income Tax Incentive Act, which will allow U.S. taxpayers to make cash donations to relief efforts in the country until March 1, 2010, but to claim those contributions on their 2009 income tax returns.

In a statement, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus noted that similar legislation was approved in the aftermath of the 2005 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Baucus introduced the bill with his Republican counterpart, Senator Charles Grassley, and several other colleagues.

Without the change, taxpayers would have had to wait until the 2010 filing season to receive the tax benefits of their donations.

People who made other charitable donations over the past year should also check with their tax preparers to ensure they are receiving the full deductions they are entitled to under the law.

"There is so much we can still do to help the Haitian people," said John Hewitt, CEO of Liberty Tax Service®. "The government has acted quickly to provide a tax incentive that can help while filing this year's return. Liberty Tax® pledges ongoing support and initiatives for Stop Hunger Now, an organization that has quickly responded to the crisis through its partnerships in Haiti."

Besides offering donations for each return prepared at participating Liberty Tax® locations, many of the offices are holding benefit fundraisers. There are a number of ways that individuals and corporations can make a difference, and make it quickly through Stop Hunger Now. Those interested in contributing monetary donations through Stop Hunger Now for the Haitian relief effort can visit the Liberty Tax® Web site for more information.

Every effort has been taken to provide the most accurate and honest analysis of the tax information provided in this blog. Please use your discretion before making any decisions based on the information provided. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for seeking professional tax advice based on your individual needs.