2014 Federal Budget – Changes to Charitable Donations
March 03, 2014
The federal budget proposes to increase flexibility to Executors in the tax treatment of charitable donations made by an individual at their death through a bequest in their Will.
During your lifetime, Canada’s tax rules allow an individual, who makes a charitable donation to claim an income tax credit calculated on the fair market value of the donated property. You are limited each year to claiming donations up to a maximum of 75% of your net income. Donations not claimed in a year can also be carried forward for any of the next five years.
In the year of death, a charitable bequest, or designation of the proceeds of an RRSP, RRIF, TFSA or life insurance policy to a charity, is treated as having been made by the individual immediately before death. The value of such gifts, up to 100% of net income can be deducted in the deceased person’s final tax return. Any balance over 100% of net income in the year of death can also be carried back to the prior year. Such gifts are very beneficial in reducing income tax payable by the Estate.
The 2014 budget proposes to introduce additional flexibility to the Estate Trustee. Instead of the donation being deemed to be made immediately before death, charitable donations/designations will deemed to have been made by the Estate at the time the gift is paid to the charity. This is usually in the first year after the date of death in most situations. The charitable deduction can be claimed in either the tax year the bequest is paid, the year of death as part of the final T-1 return, or be carried back to the last two taxation years. To be eligible, the charitable gift must be paid to the charity within 36 months of the death of the individual.
It sounds complicated, but the bottom line is that gifts to a charity from an estate, by way of a bequest or designation can now be reported in several ways, allowing the Estate Trustee the opportunity to fully apply the value of the gift against income tax payable in the year of death, or reduce tax payable in the two years prior to death. There is now a greater opportunity to ensure that a charitable donation can be used to reduce taxable income of the taxpayer in a manner most advantageous to the estate.
The changes are expected to be applicable to deaths/estates which occur after 2015. It affords a new and welcome degree of flexibility in managing the taxation that arises in an individual’s estate.