IRS Acts Quickly to Facilitate Donations for Ebola Victims and Offer Tax Relief

by Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

While employers and employees alike are asking questions about the proper workplace response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, these same folks are also asking how they can help the victims, their families and those who care for them. Fortunately, on October 29, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) utilized its statutory authority to issue two items of guidance on how employees and employers can support those affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. While the IRS often issues relief for weather-related disasters, they sparingly issue this type of relief for medical emergencies.

Leave-Based Donation Guidance

First, under the leave-based donation guidance, employees of employers that have established or plan to establish a leave donation program may donate their vacation, sick, or personal leave in exchange for employer cash payments. To qualify under this guidance, the employer contributions must be made to qualified tax-exempt organizations (which are searchable on the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Select Check) that provide relief for victims of the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone. Employees can forgo leave in exchange for employer cash contributions as long as the exchange is made before January 1, 2016. Under this special relief, the donated leave will not be included as taxable income or wages on the employee’s Form W-2, and there are no payroll tax withholdings in connection with the donated leave.

Employers may deduct the amount of their cash contributions on their federal income tax returns.  However, employees who participate in a leave donation program may not claim a charitable contribution deduction for the value of the forgone leave that is excluded from their gross income or wages–otherwise, they would be “double dipping.”

The IRS provides the following example:

[I]f an American company has such a program and makes a cash donation of the value of an employee’s donated leave before January 1, 2016, to an organization that is providing medical services and supplies for the relief of victims of the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone, the IRS will not consider the amount of that payment as gross income or wages of the employee.  Additionally, the IRS will not assert that the U.S. company can only deduct such cash payments under Internal Revenue Code section 170.

Qualified-Disaster Guidance

Second, under the qualified-disaster guidance employees who receive qualified relief payments from their employers related to the Ebola outbreak in the three designated West African countries may exclude those payments from income on their tax returns. Qualified payments generally include amounts to cover necessary personal, family, living or other expenses that are not covered by insurance.

The IRS provided two examples:

[I]f an employee living in Guinea receives reimbursement from an employer-sponsored charitable organization for medical expenses incurred by the employee as a result of the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, such reimbursement will not be included in the employee’s gross income for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

[I]f an employee of an American company is relocated within Liberia under a quarantine order due to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, and the American company pays for the employee’s transportation, rent and living expenses related to the quarantine order, such payments will not be included in the employee’s gross income for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

Right now, the U.S. and global communities seem to be focused on the health and safety concerns around the Ebola outbreak, and for good reason. But, the IRS guidance should encourage all of us to redirect at least some of our attention and energy on taking care of each other during times of crisis and natural disaster.



DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.