Taxpayers donating to help earthquake-hit Haiti can top-up their contributions without having to shell out any extra cash.

The gift aid scheme, which applies to most forms of charity-giving, allows good causes to get tax relief on your contributions to add to their pot, if you're a UK taxpayer.

A £50 donation from you via this mechanism means the charity gets £64 (see the Charity Giving guide).

To help the Haiti appeal using gift aid, visit the Disasters Emergency CommitteeHaiti Appeal page. The minimum donation is £5.

Top-up donations

Ensure you opt into gift aid by selecting the 'yes' option in the relevant box underneath your donation amount near the top of the page.

Martin Lewis, founder, says: "If you're moved by the Haiti tragedy, donations make a real impact. UK taxpayers should always remember to donate by gift aid. Whilst our economy is struggling, the poverty in Haiti is in a different league and this disaster has compounded it.

"Yet don't force your finances if you can't afford it, you are better getting them in shape so you can donate in future. Even if you can only afford a pound, why not get together with friends and work colleagues to make a joint donation?"

Tens of thousands of people are thought to have been killed in the devastating earthquake that struck on Tuesday night (UK time). In total, the disaster is thought to have affected three million people.

How gift aid works

Taking the £50 contribution as an example, the gift aid scheme means charities get the amount of basic rate tax (20%) you would have paid to come out with £50 in your pay packet.

As you would have to earn £62.50 to be given £50 of take-home pay, the charity gets that additional £12.50.

Until April 2011, the Government will give charities an extra 3p for every pound you donate. That adds another £1.50 to a £50 donation.

Higher rate (40%) taxpayers can reclaim the difference between the basic and higher rates on top of this – another £12.50 on a £50 donation – via their self assessment tax return or a P810 form from their tax office.

The forms include the option of donating that extra cash to charity.