What you should know about charitable donations come tax time

Expecting to get a tax refund this year? While that beach vacation may be tempting, experts offer wiser choices for what to do with the cash.
See how charitable your city and province is, according to TurboTax. Plus, find out how to claim charitable donations and how much they can benefit you. The Canadian Press Images/Denis Beaumont

TORONTO — Just how charitable were Canadians in 2014? According to the tax-filing company TurboTax, of those who had filed their taxes by last Monday, about one in five had claimed a charitable donation. And on average, those donations have been over $1,000.

As you may know, for each charitable donation you make to a registered charity, you can get money back by filling out Schedule 9 on your tax form — as long as you have an official receipt. What you may not know, though, is just how much those charitable donations can help you.

READ MORE: How does your charity of choice compare to others?

Personal finance and tax consultant Robin Taub explained that in Canada, for the first $200 you donate, you get a credit of 15 per cent, which amounts to $30. Anything above $200, the federal credit is 29 per cent. You also get a provincial credit, which varies depending on where you are.

Story continues below advertisement

Taub used Quebec as an example to show that if you donated $1,000 there, you could get back almost half of that thanks to those credits.

And if you’re new to donating, you would save an extra 25 per cent thanks to the first-time donor’s super credit, which was introduced in 2013.

READ MORE: 5 things you need to know about your 2014 tax return

“It’s very significant. I mean obviously the government does it to incent people to give because the government doesn’t support a lot of those charities anymore. They’re really depending on the private sector and donations and individuals,” she said.

A couple other helpful tidbits: You don’t actually have to claim your charitable donation in the year that you pay for them, according to Taub. You can carry them forward for up to five years. You can also allow your spouse or partner to claim it, if it benefits them more.

READ MORE: Filing your tax return? Don’t forget these credits, deductions

Based on those who’ve filed their taxes through TurboTax this year, here’s how the “generosity” breaks down across the country:

Average donation amount claimed by province/territory:

  1. Nunavut $1,490.71
  2. Alberta $1,416.45
  3. Northwest Territories $1,287.47
  4. Manitoba $1,153.48
  5. Saskatchewan $1,096.31
  6. British Columbia $1,067.91
  7. Ontario $903.84
  8. New Brunswick $899.96
  9. Yukon Territory $864.68
  10. Newfoundland & Labrador $794.93
  11. Quebec $788.87
  12. Prince Edward Island $709.65
  13. Nova Scotia $590.09

READ MORE: Manitoba the ‘most generous’ province in Canada based on 2013 tax season

Top 10 highest average donation amounts claimed by major city:

  1. Calgary $1,332.44
  2. Saskatoon $1,178.16
  3. Edmonton $1,142.26
  4. Yellowknife $1,090.63
  5. Regina $1,074.48
  6. Vancouver $1,030.94
  7. Winnipeg $936.66
  8. Toronto $930.97
  9. Whitehorse $901.81
  10. Ottawa $842.51

Who’s giving?

  • On average, more men than women have claimed donations (18 versus 15.4 per cent).
  • Men have also claimed higher donation amounts than women ($1,308.93 versus $617.31).
  • Generation X has claimed the highest number of charitable donations to-date (25.4 per cent), followed closely by Baby Boomers (24.9 per cent).
  • As of March 16, only 14.8 per cent of millennials have claimed charitable donations.