The recent environmental disasters in our country, particularly the horrific and devastating fires to hit Victoria as well as the severe floods in North Queensland, have brought to the fore the extreme generosity and selflessness of the Australian community.

We have seen demonstrations of heroism from the survivors, as well as from the emergency service staff and volunteers who have contributed to the rescue efforts. We have also seen great displays of mateship and unity as the rest of the nation pulls together to donate various resources, including money, to those in need.

At times such as this we feel compelled to help, as we know that those we are helping would most certainly do the same for us. For those of us who cannot give of our time the most practical way for us to help and show our support is through cash donations.

There are various ways that this can be done, however it is important to be aware of a few facts which will ensure that your donation gets to the people and places that it is intended for and that you can correctly claim a deduction for any eligible donations you make.

The ATO has announced that when processing any donations that are made to aid current emergency relief efforts it will use the same administrative procedures as it did for the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.

This means that people who give “bucket donations” are able to claim a deduction in their 2008 – 09 tax return for the amount equal to their contribution up to the value of $10 without having to produce a receipt.

For those that make a donation of $10 or more using the telephone or internet, their web generated receipt or credit card statement will be considered sufficient documentation to claim the total value of the deduction.

Similarly, receipts from donations made to third parties such as banks and retail outlets are treated the same for deduction-claiming purposes.

It is also important to be mindful of the organisation or entity that you are donating your funds to. As a precaution it is usually a good idea to donate to an endorsed organisation. You will find that most charities are endorsed, so it is a good idea to donate to an existing, well-established organisation. This will help to ensure that your funds are passed on to those in need, and not risk it being misdirected by scammers who are taking advantage of this terrible situation and our generosity. It will also see that you are able claim the total deduction that you are entitled to.

Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by recent events – those who have survived, those who have lost their friends, loved ones and homes, and all of the emergency service workers and volunteers who are giving so generously of themselves.

If you have any questions regarding claiming deductions for donations to emergency relief funds or any other tax or accounting query please do not hesitate to contact us.

At The Quinn Group, our team of professional accountants are able to provide advice to businesses and individuals on a range of accounting and tax related issues. To speak with one of our professionals please contact The Quinn Group on 1300 QUINNS or click here to submit an online enquiry.