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S. 2936 – Haiti Assistance Income Tax Incentive Act

The proposed bill allows “a cash contribution made [after January 11, 2010 and before March 1, 2010] for the relief of victims in areas affected by the earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010” to be considered – for tax purposes – as having occurred on December 31, 2009.

S. 2937 – A bill to provide a temporary suspension of limitation on charitable contributions and to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the enhanced charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory

Among other things, the proposed bill provides a temporary suspension to the limitation on the amount of charitable goods that an individual is allowed to consider for tax purposes so long as the contribution is made “for relief efforts related to the earthquake in Haiti occurring on January 12, 2010.”

Senator Lugar (R-IN) delivers remarks on “Foreign Assistance and Development in a New Era”

During remarks at the Society for International Development, Senator Richard Lugar reiterated Secretary Clinton’s statement that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) should “be seen as the premier development agency in the world” and provided several suggestions on how U.S. development efforts could be improved, including:
– Independent Agency: “Development must be an independent partner of diplomacy” due to the inherent differences in mission and timeframe.

- Policy & Budgeting: USAID must be included in relevant policy and budget decisions and “must have the capacity to evaluate programs and disseminate information about best practices and methods.”

- Development Objectives: U.S. development efforts should be “guided by objectives rather than by how we organize our government to deliver development assistance.”

- Leading Agency: A “whole-of-government” approach to development has benefits, but someone needs to lead, be accountable, and coordinate these efforts and “an integrated strategy can only come from an agency that understands development is a separate discipline.”

Senators Kerry and Lugar outline challenges facing MCC

In a letter to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) CEO Daniel Yohannes, Senators Kerry and Lugar expressed their support for MCC’s efforts to fight global poverty and outlined five critical challenges facing MCC:
1) Role & Purpose of MCC Assistance: Should MCC funding be given to middle income countries or should a “transition fund” be created to assist low income countries become compact eligible?

2) Foreign Assistance Reform: The MCC should remain an independent development agency, but should improve its coordination with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), State and other agencies undertaking development activities.

3) Threshold Program: The MCC should perform a “significant overhaul and substantial rethinking” of the threshold program.

4) Additional Authorities & Flexibility: The Senators expressed they were “amenable” to allowing the MCC to run “concurrent”, longer term (greater than 5 year), and regional compacts.

5) Funding and Project Implementation Models: The “MCC should consider and incorporate new and innovative models for the compact program and how it delivers assistance” including “a greater emphasis on civil society and the private sector to generate project ideas and undertake implementation.”

H.R. 4462 – To accelerate the income tax benefits for charitable cash contributions for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Haiti (Public Law No: 111-126)

The proposed bill allows “a cash contribution made [after January 11, 2010 and before March 1, 2010] for the relief of victims in areas affected by the earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010” to be considered – for tax purposes – as having occurred on December 31, 2009.

Timeline of the bill:

- Introduced and referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means on January 19, 2010.

- Passed by a voice vote in the House on January 20, 2010.

- Passed by unanimous consent in the Senate on January 21, 2010.

- Signed by the President (Public Law No: 111-126) on Janurary 22, 2010.