Monday, 21 March 2016

Call for charity tax change

It’s tax time. If you have ever paid attention to your tax return, you may recall that there is a tax credit for contributions to political parties. There is also a tax credit available to anyone who contributes to any registered charity. But did you ever look at the actual amount of the tax credit?

If you were to give, as an example, $400 to any political party in Canada you would have received a tax credit of $300 or 75%. The actual cost of your donation would be $100. If you were to give that same $400 to any charity, you would receive a federal tax credit for $88.00 and a provincial tax credit of 33.30 for a total of $121.30. The actual cost of your donation would be almost triple that or $278.70.

This has always bugged me. Why do political parties skim the cream to raise funds for their particular political purposes?

Recently I received an e-mail from a Conservative Member of Parliament, Ted Falk, who represents the riding of Provencher in Manitoba. Falk is proposing a Private Members Bill in the House of Commons which will level the playing field for charitable gifts. The bill, C-239, titled The Fairness in Charitable Gifts Act, needs all party support to receive First reading in the House of Commons. And it may not proceed to Second and Third reading unless our Member of Parliament agree.

Falk says in his e-mail, “...federal tax credits for political contributions far exceed the federal tax credits for donations to registered charities in Canada. That's just not right.”

I agree. His proposal is to bring the tax credit for charitable gifts in line with that credit for political parties. He says, “... charities all across Canada will benefit greatly as more dollars will be freed up for donations. This will make it easier for small donors to become larger donors, and for people who do not currently donate, to start.”

This would be good news for any charitable organization in Canada, no matter what cause they serve. Cultural groups like the Tom Thompson Gallery would benefit. So would the United Way, the Salvation Army, OSHaRE and many, many more.

Charitable giving, according to Statistics Canada, has been in steady decline since 1990. If we are to continue to have the charitable sector be a part of our community, that trend has to change. This bill is the perfect way.

Please take a moment and call or e-mail your MP and ask then to support Bill C-239, The Fairness in Charitable Gifts Act. You can also e-mail the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition as the Leader of the NDP and Green parties.

This has the potential to change our community for the better. And you can make it work. Just do it.

Rev. David Shearman is a retired United Church minister in Owen Sound and the host of Faithworks on Rogers TV - Grey County.