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Charitable Donations during Tough Economic Times

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# Monday, 02 February 2009
Monday, 02 February 2009 14:14:35 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( General Life | Term Life | Whole Life )

Canadian charities are facing a reduction in charitable donations due to the global financial crisis. An open letter was sent to the Prime Minister as well as the Finance Minister that was published in Canadian newspapers. The letter asked for tax breaks for corporate as well individual donations in order to increase charitable giving for Canadian charities.

Under the current laws, individuals and/or corporations can donate shares of publicly traded companies and do not have to pay the capital gains tax. The open letter asked for this same exemption for donations of private company shares as well as real estate. This would put Canada in the same playing field as the United States, and is expected to dramatically increase charitable donations. Currently a tax receipt is issued for donations of real estate and private shares, but a capital gains tax still must be paid on these types of donations.

Donating to charity is not only a great way to help the community, but also for financial planning due to the tax credits. In order to benefit from the tax credits, donors are required to donate to a registered charity. Currently qualified donees include:

• Registered Canadian charities;
• Registered Canadian amateur athletic associations;
• Prescribed universities outside of Canada;
• Charitable organizations outside of Canada that the Government of Canada has made a donation to in the current or previous tax year;
• The Government of Canada, a province, and/or a territory;
• Tax-exempt Canadian housing corporations that provide only low-cost housing for seniors;
• Municipal and/or public bodies that perform a function of government in Canada;
• The United Nations and its agencies.

Donations made to a registered charity do not have to be claimed in the current year, but can be used on any tax return for any of the next five years. Donations can only be claimed once. Tax credits that are carried forward from a previous year must be used before tax credits for gifts in the current year can be applied. When claiming a donation from a previous year, a note should be attached to the return indicating the year in which the receipt was submitted, as well as the portion of the eligible amount you are claiming for the current year and the amount that will be carried forward. Receipts can also be combined with those of a person's spouse/common-law partner and be claimed together on one tax return that will allow for the highest tax credit rate.

Currently, the first $200 that is donated is eligible for a federal tax credit of 15% of the amount donated. For amounts after the initial $200, the federal tax credit is increased to 29% of the remainder. All or a part of this amount is eligible generally up to 75% of the net income. Provincial tax credits are also available; these will vary among the provinces.

For those Canadians who wish to donate to charity and claim the tax credits, only donations made to a registered charity will be allowed. A list of registered charities can be found at the Canada Revenue Agency website. This also provides information regarding any charity that has had their status revoked, as well as new charities that have been registered within the past year. Life insurance policies can also be used to donate to charity, as well as property/cash gifts. When using a policy to donate the donor can either gift the ownership of an existing policy or allow the charity to take out a policy on the donor's life. In either circumstance the charity becomes the legal owner of the policy. When gifting an existing policy, the cash surrender value minus any outstanding policy loans plus any accumulated dividends and/or interest will be considered the fair market value. This amount will then be eligible for a tax receipt. If the donor pays the premiums for a policy in which the charity is the beneficiary, these payments are considered a charitable donation and can be issued a tax receipt yearly for the premiums paid. For more information regarding this charitable donation option, visit Life-Quotes.ca

 

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