As the 2020 filing deadline approaches, you need to make sure that any charitable donations you are going to claim are properly backed up with receipts that meet very specific technical requirements.
If you file electronically (or your accountant e-Files for you), you do not enclose the receipts with your return, but if you claim substantial donations, it is very likely the CRA will audit your return and write to you to request copies of the receipts.
The stringent requirements for donation receipts are set out in section 3501 of the Income Tax Regulations (which you can find on CanLii.org).
Receipts may be issued on paper, and mailed or delivered to you; or electronically, and sent by email or web link pickup.
Based on subsection 3501(1) of the Regulations, every receipt must contain the following to be valid:
- The name and address in Canada of the charity, as recorded with the CRA.
- The registration number (also known as a “Business Number”) assigned by the CRA to the charity. This takes the form of 9 digits, plus “RR” (for charity registrations), plus four digits for the branch number, usually 0001. Example: 123456789RR0001.
- The serial number of the receipt.
- The place where the receipt was issued.
- Where the donation is of money, the date on which — or the year during which — the donation was received by the charity.
- Where the donation is of property other than money:
- the day on which the donation was received;
- a brief description of the property, and
- the name and address of the appraiser of the property, if an appraisal was done.
- The date on which the receipt was issued.
- The name and address of the donor including, for an individual, the individual’s first name and initial. (Note that, for a couple who are married or are common-law partners, either one can claim the donation as long as one of them is named on the receipt.)
- The amount that is
- the amount of the donation, if it was money, or
- if the donation is of property other than money, the fair market value of the property at the time the donation was made.
- A description of the “advantage”, if any, in respect of the donation and the amount of that “advantage”. This refers to any benefit you may have received in exchange for making the donation. For example, if you paid $500 for a ticket to a fund-raising dinner and the dinner was worth $100, the “advantage” is $100.
- The “eligible amount” of the donation. This is the amount of the donation minus the “advantage” above. In the above example, the “eligible amount” that you can claim for tax purposes would be $400.
- The amount that is
- The signature of a responsible individual who has been authorized by the charity to acknowledge donations.
- The Canada Revenue Agency name and Internet website. This should appear as “canada.ca/charities-giving” or “canada.ca/organismes-bienfaisance-dons” on the receipt, according to the CRA.