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T’is the season to be giving! Ten questions to ask yourself prior to donating

When you donate to charities you help make a positive impact on the lives of many Canadians, people around the world and on your life as well. Charities depend on our donation dollars to help Canadians and people around the world.  Yet, before you go out and support an organization, it is important carefully research the charity.  Here are the top ten questions you could ask yourself prior to donating to a charity.

1.Who can I donate to?

Although there are plenty of important causes in Canada, only registered charities can provide you with a donation receipt and thus help you reduce your taxes. The key word here is registered. Registered charities differ from not-for-profit organizations such as clubs and sporting leagues. Registered charities function under specific rules that are set out by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Some of the stipulations that charities must follow include: ensuring that the money that they raise goes to charitable activities, keeping proper books and records, and sharing their financial and activity information annually with all Canadians through the CRA. There are other rules that charities must adhere to which you can read more about on the CRA website. In exchange for adhering to these stipulations, charities earn the right to a charitable registration number. This number is important to you, the donor because it makes you qualify for a tax credit.

Related: The difference between a registered charity and a non-profit organization

2. How can I find out if a charity is registered?

You could ask the charity for its registration number and verify its status on the List of Charities. You could also call the Charities Directorate at 1-800-267-2384.

Related:  The information that must be on an official donation receipt 

3. What can I donate?

You could donate cash, land or listed securities such as stocks to a registered charity or other qualified donees. Note that although gifts of service are valuable to charities, they don’t qualify for a tax receipt. These include donated time, skills and effort.

A good example of a gift of service is the following scenario. Let’s pretend that you are a software company and you offer to build a website for XYZ charity. After the website is completed, your company suggests that instead of invoicing the charity $16,000, the charitable organization issue you with a tax receipt of $16,000. Is the charity able to issue you a tax receipt? No, the charity is not able to issue you a tax credit because the website that you built for the charity is considered a gift of service and its an example of how you donated your time, skill and effort.

Lets now look at another scenario. You are still the same software company, yet in this case, you created a pre-designed software product, specifically a website template designed for charities (not only for XYZ charity but many charities). Your software company sells this product for $4000 and as long as you have documents to verify that this the fair market value of the product, then XYZ charity could issue you a donation receipt for $4000.

So the difference between scenario 1 and scenario 2 is that the former scenario is an illustration of a gift of service whereas the latter scenario is an example of a gift of property. In scenario 1, your software firm created a website specifically for XYZ charity, which could not be sold in the free and open market and therefore doesn’t qualify for a tax credit.  On the contrary, in scenario 2, your software company designed an off the shelf software that could be sold in the free and open market, and thus qualifies for a tax credit.

4. How much do I need to donate to receive a tax credit?

You could donate any amount to benefit from a tax credit. Just ensure that you have an official donation receipt.  Note that a charity is not required to give a receipt when it receives a donation. The CRA advises charities to tell potential donors when they will or will not be issued a receipt.

5. How do I claim a donation?

When you file your income tax and benefit return, there is an area on your return that is specifically for claiming your donations. Remember to fill out the donations section on your provincial and territorial tax and credit form. Additionally, ensure that you store all supporting documents such as official donation receipts, canceled cheques and pledge forms and stubs in the event that the CRA decides to review your return.

Related: The documents you will need to claim your charitable donation

6. Do I need to claim my donation receipts on an annual basis?

You can claim your receipts up to 5 years after you’ve made the donation, You can also combine your receipts with those of your spouse or common-law partner. In fact, donations of over $200 are equivalent to a deduction at the top tax bracket regardless of whether or not the donor is in the top tax bracket.

7. Is it fine if a registered charity gives me something in return for my donation, such as sporting or ballet tickets?

Yes, this totally fine and it is called an advantage. When a charitable organization gives you something as a token of their appreciation in exchange for your donation, the charity is required to subtract the value of the advantage from the amount of your donation to calculate the eligible amount to put on your donation receipt.

For example, you donated $1,500 to a registered charity called ABC Ballet Company. In order to show their appreciation, the company gives you three tickets to a performance that are valued at $150. You are therefore considered to have been given an advantage of $150. The eligible amount of the gift is $1350 ($1,500  $150).

8. What if the organization that I donated to is no longer registered. Can I still use my donation receipts to claim a tax credit?

Yes, if the charitable organization was registered when you first made the donation, then you can still use the receipt to claim a tax credit.

9. What are some tips that could help me ensure that I donate wisely?

a. Prior to donating check out the List of charities to verify that the organization is qualified to give you an official donation receipt.

b. Do not donate to an organization that pressures you to give immediately or if you aware of any signs of fraud.

c. Ensure that your online donations are secure.

d. Write cheques to the charity and not the individual.

e. Beware of donation schemes that promise a tax receipt for more than you donated.

10. What are some warning signs that a charitable organization might be engaged in fraud?

a. The charity calls to thank you for a donation that you have not made.

b. Organizations that use names similar to popular charitable organizations.

c. Canvassers who do not disclose details about the organization they serve.

d. Requests from the organization to send cash or money orders instead of cheques or credit card. Cash could not be traced and cannot be canceled.

e. Overly friendly canvassers that ask you personal questions.

f. Organizations that use free email addresses like Gmail or Hotmail to enable people that are part of the organization to conceal their identity.

g. Strange call display numbers such as 123-456-789 or 888-888-889 which might mean that the caller is trying to hide their phone number.

If you suspect an organization is engaged in fraud, report the suspected fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

An infographic about top five tips to donating wisely

An infographic about the top five tips to donating wisely.


If you require additional consultation or want to learn more about our professional accounting services, please do not hesitate to contact S & P Accounting Services.

Polina Presman, CPA, CA

T- 416-371-6017
F- 416-667-0404

Shani Marzin, CPA, CA

T- 416-731-9031
F- 416-667-0404

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

Disclaimer: We strive to ensure all information on our site is accurate and up to date. However, the contents of the site are naturally subject to change from time to time. That means, we can’t always guarantee the accuracy of all information on the site. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECKING THE ACCURACY OF RELEVANT FACTS AND OPINIONS GIVEN ON THE SITE BEFORE ENTERING INTO ANY COMMITMENT BASED UPON THEM.

This post was written by Biz Source, a content creation company and is for illustration purposes only. For professional advice, please contact S & P Accounting Services.

Professional accounting services in North York and Toronto

What kind of professional accounting services do we provide?

We provide a full range of professional accounting services which include, accounting, tax returns, bookkeeping, and payroll.  We serve individuals and business clients in the Greater Toronto Area, which includes Toronto, Vaughan, North York, Richmond Hill, Mississauga, and Thornhill.

Why choose our professional accounting services?

Our professional accounting services offer many benefits to our clients:

  • You will have the opportunity to work with chartered accountants who are experts in their field.
  • You will be able to leverage on our extensive experience with audit, review, tax and bookkeeping.
  • We will help you understand how to be more successful. For instance, we will help you understand how your finances work to your benefit and how to grow your wealth in the smartest way possible. Financial literacy is key to becoming a successful business owner.
  • We will simplify your accounting and business needs. For instance, one major advantage of our payroll services is our ability to create a variety of reports that simplify accounting procedures and help your company ensure they are in compliance with legal and tax filing requirements.
  • Our professional accounting services help ensure that your accounting is accurate, complete and filed on time – this way you could focus on what’s important, helping your business succeed.

How are we committed to proving excellent professional accounting services?

  • We will give you the most current information, so you can make informed decisions for your business
  • We will maintain your books up to date to ensure you have a real-time picture of how your business is doing.
  • We will ensure that you file your taxes on time in order to avoid any late penalty fees.
  • We will respond to any of your questions and/or requests within 24 hours.
  • We will always work to improve, enhance and make your core business more efficient by providing you with innovative, sustainable and creative business solutions that are tax efficient and catered to your specific needs.
  • Our unique approach enables us to find specific tax breaks and deductions for most of our clients.

If you require additional consultation or want to learn more about our professional accounting services, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Polina Presman, CPA, CA

T- 416-371-6017
F- 416-667-0404

Shani Marzin, CPA, CA

T- 416-731-9031
F- 416-667-0404

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

Eight CRA fraud prevention tips from an accountant in Toronto

Advice from a Toronto accountant about how to protect yourself against CRA fraud

Over the past few months there has been a rise in Canadian residents falling victim of Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scams.  A man in Peterborough was defrauded out of $2,400. Residents in south-central Ontario and Chilliwack, British Columbia have also fallen prey to this scam.

Although, in a previous post, I’ve provided advice about how to protect yourself against tax evasion scams, I think its worth mentioning the importance of protecting yourself against such frauds, especially given the rise of these unfortunate defrauding cases.

In this article, I share with you eight CRA fraud prevention tips that will hopefully help you avoid falling victim of a CRA scam.

Typically, victims of the scams receive a phone call from someone pretending to be a representative of Canada Revenue Agency. The fake CRA representative tells the victims that they owe x amount of dollars or their assets will be seized. Alternatively, theses scams could be communicated by email, text message or on the answering machine.

Here are eight crucial fraud prevention tips from an accountant in the Toronto area

If you receive a call from someone saying that they are from the CRA use these guidelines to help verify if the call is legitimate:

  1. The scammers can be extremely assertive and aggressive. Remember the the CRA will never use coercive language or  be aggressive or try to intimidate you.
  2. The scammers may threaten to arrest you or send you to the police. Remember the CRA will never threaten you to arrest you or take you to the police.
  3. If someone calls you saying that they are from the CRA and asking for personal information and/or asks you to give them money. Do not take immediate action. Hang up and verify the information by calling the CRA through the official phone number.
  4. The CRA will never ask you for credit card information or for prepayments by prepaid credit cards or your personal information by email or text message. So if you receive mail, an email or a text message requesting personal information, know that these are fraudulent and never respond to them. Hang up.
  5. Before you take any action or share any personal or financial information, hang up and call a trusted family member, friend, your bank or your chartered accountant to get a second opinion on the call.
  6. Ask yourself:
    1. Is it really safe to transfer money to someone I do not know?
    2. Is there a legitimate reason that the CRA may be calling? Do I have a tax balance outstanding?
    3. Is the requester asking for information I would not include with my tax return? Is the requester asking for information I know the CRA already has on file for me?
    4. Am I confident I know who is asking for the information?
  7. Ask the caller for their ID and verify the callers ID by calling the CRA directly.
  8. Check that status of your account by either logging in to MyAccount or calling CRA directly.

Is the message that you receive from CRA legitimate? when in doubt, ask your Chartered Accountant

If you are unsure if the phone call, email or text message is legitimate or a fraudulent message, ask your Chartered Accountant. Your Chartered Accountant should know how the CRA communicates with taxpayers and your Chartered Accountant should be able to distinguish between fraudulent communication and legitimate communication from the CRA.

If you feel that you’ve been a victim of fraud or have received deceptive telemarketing, you should call 1-888-495-8501 or visit CRA fraud website. Follow these steps if you’ve been defrauded.

If you require consultation or a have any accounting inquires, please do not hesitate to contact us.  S&P Accounting Services has experienced Chartered Accountants and we serve clients in in Toronto and other cities in the GTA which include, North York, Thornhill, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.

Polina Presman, CPA, CA

T- 416-371-6017
F- 416-667-0404

Shani Marzin, CPA, CA

T- 416-731-9031
F- 416-667-0404

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

Are you looking for a tax accountant in Toronto to help you with your tax return?

You may be eligible for free tax services

If you are looking for a tax accountant in the Toronto or North York area, yet have a simple tax situation and modest income, you may be eligible for free tax services.

In fact, there are many community organizations throughout Canada that have volunteers completing tax returns for eligible individuals. These tax clinics are made feasible through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP).

You might qualify for theses services if you have a modest income and a simple tax situation.

1. What is a modest income?

Modest income means that your family income is less than the amount shown in the chart below. Verify with the community organization in your vicinity to see if you are eligible as some organizations have different eligibility requirements. 

Family size Total family income
One person $30,000
One person with one dependant $35,000 (add $2,500 for each additional dependant)
Couple $40,000 (add $2,500 for each dependant)

2. Do you have a simple tax situation?

In general, your tax situation is simple if you have no income or if your income comes from these sources:

  • employment
  • pension
  • benefits such as CPP, disability, CCB, EI, social assistance
  • RRSP
  • support payments
  • scholarships, fellowships, bursaries or grants
  • interest (under $1,000)

Your tax situation is not simple if you:

  • are self-employed or have employment expenses
  • have business or rental income and expenses
  • have capital gains or losses
  • file for bankruptcy
  • are completing a tax return for a deceased person

In such circumstances, you may wish to seek advice and assistance from a tax accountant.

3. When are these free tax services offered?

Volunteer tax preparation clinics are generally offered each year between February and April but many are operating all year at various locations across Canada.

4. Where are the tax preparation clinics located?

Here is a list of free tax preparation clinics in:

5. What to bring to the tax preparation clinic?

 In order for volunteers to complete your income tax and benefit return for you, make sure to bring your:

  • Tax information slips
  • Receipts
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Identification

Volunteers need the above items to prepare your income tax and benefit return.

7. How do you get your slips?

You can visit Service Canada‘s secure site to get access to your current year and prior year old age security (OAS), employment insurance (EI) and Canada pension plan (CPP) tax slips electronically. 

For more information, see Information slips – T4 and other slips.

8. What if I require assistance with my taxes and don’t qualify for assistance from one of the free tax clinics?

If you require assistance with your taxes and are not eligible for assistance from one of the free tax clinics, you may contact S & P Accounting Services. We are a full-service accounting firm handling taxation, bookkeeping, payroll and accounting. We happily serve clients in North York, Toronto, Vaughan, Mississauga, Richmond Hill and other cities situated in the GTA. If you require consultation or a have any accounting inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Polina Presman, CPA, CA

T- 416-371-6017
F- 416-667-0404

Shani Marzin, CPA, CA

T- 416-731-9031
F- 416-667-0404

S&P Accounting Services LLP
2727 Steeles Ave. W. Suite 300
North York, ON, M3J 3G9
www.spaccountingservices.ca

Disclaimer:

We strive to ensure all information on our site is accurate and up to date. However, the contents of the site are naturally subject to change from time to time. That means, we can’t always guarantee the accuracy of all information on the site. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECKING THE ACCURACY OF RELEVANT FACTS AND OPINIONS GIVEN ON THE SITE BEFORE ENTERING INTO ANY COMMITMENT BASED UPON THEM.

This post was written by Biz Source, a content creation company and is for illustration purposes only. For professional advice, please contact S & P Accounting Services.