It is the time of year that many are thinking about and giving to charity. The Federal government sent out a press release stating “We encourage Canadians to donate generously but also to do their homework to ensure that the funds they donate will be put to good use.” I cannot emphasize enough the importance of avoiding charity schemes or investments that promise you tax savings greater than the amount of your investment and also doing your due diligence on the charity that you are donating to. You might find a new micro-site I am working on helpful - http://www.smartgiving.ca
Give the gift of charity this holiday season
Ottawa, Ontario, December 19, 2011… The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of National Revenue, encourages all Canadians to donate wisely this holiday season.
“Canadians have a long and proud history of giving generously to others, especially at this time of year,” said Minister Shea. “That is why our Government is constantly looking at ways to improve tax law to help Canadians give to the causes they believe in. We encourage Canadians to donate generously but also to do their homework to ensure that the funds they donate will be put to good use.”
To donate wisely means to be an informed donor and research your charity before giving. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can help donors become more informed before they give.
As the regulator of charities in Canada, the CRA provides an online searchable list of all the registered charities to help Canadians learn more about their charity before they give. Use the Charities Listings tool to verify if an organization is a registered charity and to learn more about a registered charity’s activities and its financial information, such as income, expenditures, assets, and liabilities.
Donating wisely also means being aware of charitable fraud and donation schemes that promise you returns greater than your initial donation amount. Remember that only registered charities can issue donation receipts. Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when donating this holiday season:
if it sounds to good to be true it probably is;
be aware that sometimes fraudulent charities use names that are similar to well-known and respected charities;
write cheques payable directly to the charity, not an individual;
make sure that your online payments are secure; and
refuse to donate if there is inappropriate pressure to give immediately.
Your charitable donations can help you reduce your tax bill when you file your income tax return. The deadline for donations for the 2011 tax year is December 31st so remember to keep your official receipts from your charitable donations this holiday season. New for 2011, taxpayers can use the CRA’s charitable donation tax credit estimator to calculate their eligible charitable tax credit.
The CRA is committed to providing Canadians with the tools to be informed donors and avoid fraud. To learn more go to http://www.cra.gc.ca/donors, call 1-800-267-2384 , or watch the Giving to Registered Charities 101 videocasts on the CRA YouTube channel.
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Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.