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Deductible hurricane help

By Kay Bell ·
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Posted: 9 am ET

Rep. Ron Paul, officially a Texas Republican, says the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, "is not a good friend." Paul, who's trying (again) to get the GOP presidential nomination, thinks Uncle Sam should just get out of disaster relief and management.

Paul's colleague, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, stopped short of calling for an end to FEMA. But the Virginia Republican made it clear that any additional money for federal cleanup after Hurricane Irene will have to be offset by spending cuts.

A possible fight over recovery money is not good news for folks dealing with all sorts of storm damage estimated to cost between $7 billion and $13 billion.

But just as reliable as Congressional battles is post-disaster help from nonprofit organizations.

The American Red Cross is seeking financial donations. You can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 or make a larger donation online. The Salvation Army also accepts online disaster relief donations.

If you want to help, these and other IRS-approved groups -- as well as the folks trying to get their lives back on track all along the Eastern Seaboard -- would love to hear from you.

And if you itemize your charitable deductions, you can deduct your Irene-related donation when you file your taxes next year.

Remember, too, that if you volunteer in a hard hit area, your unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses toward the cleanup, as well as the miles you drive to help out, also are deductible.

If you are on the receiving rather than the giving end of help, don't forget that the tax code provides some help. Once you get your living situation stabilized, check out the disaster relief options available by filing a casualty claim with the Internal Revenue Service.

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