Increased Deduction Limit for Disaster Relief Cash Contributions by Corporations

The IRS has released information on how corporations can qualify for the new 100% limit for disaster relief contributions, and has offered a temporary waiver of the record keeping requirement for corporations otherwise qualifying for the increased limit. The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (P.L. 116-260) temporarily increased the limit, to up to 100% of a corporation’s taxable income, for contributions paid in cash for relief efforts in qualified disaster areas.


Qualified Disaster Areas

Under the new law, qualified disaster areas are those in which a major disaster has been declared under section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. (This does not include any disaster declaration related to COVID-19.) Otherwise, it includes any major disaster declaration made by the President during the period beginning on January 1, 2020, and ending on February 25, 2021, as long as it is for an occurrence specified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as beginning after December 27, 2019, and no later than December 27, 2020. See for a list of disaster declarations.

The corporation must pay qualified contributions during the period beginning on January 1, 2020, and ending on February 25, 2021. Cash contributions to most charitable organizations qualify for this increased limit, but contributions made to a supporting organization or to establish or maintain a donor advised fund do not qualify. A corporation elects the increased limit by computing its deductible amount of qualified contributions using the increased limit and by claiming the amount on its return for the tax year in which the contribution was made.


The 2020 Taxpayer Certainty Act, which was enacted December 27, 2020, added an additional substantiation requirement for qualified contributions. For corporations electing the increased limit, a corporation’s contemporaneous written acknowledgment (CWA) from the charity must include a disaster relief statement, stating that the contribution was used, or is to be used, by the eligible charity for relief efforts in one or more qualified disaster areas.

Because of the timing of the new law, the IRS recognizes that some corporations may have obtained a CWA that lacks the disaster relief statement. Accordingly, the IRS will not challenge a corporation’s deduction of any qualified contribution made before February 1, 2021, solely on the grounds that the corporation’s CWA does not include the disaster relief statement.

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