Up to 75% of a taxpayer’s net income can be claimed as donations, except in the year of death or the year preceding death, when 100% of net income can be claimed as donations. The donations limit can also be increased when capital property is donated.
Only donations (gifts) to registered charities and other qualified donees (see the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) definition for a qualified donee) can be claimed as charitable donations. CRA has a web page, Charities and Giving, where you can search charities listings to see if a particular charity is a registered charity.
If any “advantage” was received (compensation or other benefits) in return for the donation (e.g., tickets, meals), the eligible gift for purposes of the donation claim is reduced by the value of the advantage received.
The tax credit for donations and gifts is in the form of a non-refundable tax credit, and is claimed on Line 349 on Schedule 1 of the federal tax return (Provincial Line 5896). The tax credit for the first $200 of donations is at the lowest personal tax rate (except for Québec, which uses 20%), and the tax credit for the amount over $200 is at the highest tax rate federally, and for all provinces and territories except Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario. Alberta has only one tax rate (10%) for calculating income taxes, but uses 21% as the rate for donations over $200. New Brunswick reduced their highest tax rate a few years ago, but did not reduce the rate used for donations over $200. Ontario increased their highest tax rate in 2012, and again in 2013, but still uses the 2011 highest tax rate for donations over $200.
Optimizing the Donation Tax Credit
When a taxpayer has a spouse or common law partner and the combined donations are greater than $200, the donations for both spouses should usually be combined and claimed on one tax return. Check your tax return carefully in relation to donations. It is possible that by claiming all donations on one tax return, the donations may not be completely utilized. If this is the case, you can either carry forward some of the donations, or split the donations between spouses.
In order to split donations between spouses in some tax software packages, you may have to manually override the field utilized for this purpose. If you override the donations amount in the wrong form, the tax return may no longer be eligible for NetFile. Some tax software packages allow this to be done without overriding an amount.
By splitting the donation between spouses, you are giving up the higher tax credit rate on $200 of donations, because there will now be $200 of donations at the lower tax credit rate for each spouse, instead of for just one spouse.
Donations need not be claimed in the year they are paid. They can be carried forward for up to 5 years. Under the CRA’s administrative policy it is permissible for a charitable donation that was initially reported on one spouse or common-law partner’s return to be transferred to the other spouse or common-law partner in a subsequent year.
For more information on Donations please visit; Line 349 – Donation and Gifts