Contributions Made by Unextended Filing Deadline for 2014 in Support of Two Slain Officers Can Be Treated as 2014 Contributions Even Though Made in 2015

A last minute change in the tax law came as we raced towards the 2015 filing deadline.  As the IRS announced in New Release IR-2015-65 Congress passed and the President signed into law the Slain Officer Family Support Act of 2015.

Taxpayers who made contributions to charities providing relief for the families of two slain New York City police officers (Detectives Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos) in 2015 through midnight on April 15, 2015 may choose to claim the charitable deduction on their 2014 income tax return.

The law also provides a specific exemption from the rules that would generally block a deduction specifically for the benefit of the families, as well as providing that the funds distributed by a charity on or after December 20, 2014 and on or before October 15, 2015 shall be treated as related to the charity’s exempt purpose and will not be treated as inuring to the benefit of any private individual.

As this bill was enacted at the beginning of April, there was a narrow window during which taxpayers could intentionally take advantage of this provision.  However, it is possible that some taxpayers may have made contributions in January through March for such relief that now can be treated as a 2014 contribution. 

If the taxpayers have not yet filed the taxpayers would simply claim it on their 2014 return when filed. However anyone who had already filed their return will need to decide if the benefit to be received from amending the 2014 returns will offset the cost of preparing an amended return. 

As well, issues may arise on state income tax returns since it may take time before states decide if they will accept this special treatment for the contributions or if they must rather be treated as 2015 contributions.