As different parts of the country deal with disasters, people want to help. If you’re looking for a tax deduction, it’s important to know that any organization you donate to is one where you’ll get such a write-off.

“Anything that you want to write off on your taxes as a charitable donation needs to be made to an exempt organization,” said IRS spokesman Michael Devine. “Unless it’s a church or synagogue, then they’re going to have to register with the IRS. We’ve got a very, very good tax exempt organization search tool on our website at, so that you can go in and make sure that the organization that you want to donate to is legitimate.”

There are lots of locally-based legitimate organizations in these areas, but you should check.

“In order to be registered with the IRS, you have to file as an exempt organization and you get a number and you have to file a tax return with the IRS as that exempt organization,” said Devine. “Most of them are very legitimate and they’re very, very good about showing you the paperwork.”

It’s also important that you get a paper trail on your end, too.

“Always contribute by check or credit card,” said Devine. “Never give cash. They do not need your personal information, like passwords or account information. If you want to donate, please do so, but be careful, make sure that money’s going where you want it to go.”

Most scams begin with an unsolicited appeal. If you weren’t looking to contribute, be skeptical if you’re asked by someone you don’t have a previous relationship with.