We help a lot of Canadian charities because we were both raised to believe that if you have you should share. One thing we quickly learned is that we can donate more to Canadian charities at the same total cost to us if we claim the donation on our income taxes. We also donate to some international charities. (And yes, despite what Pearson airport and Canada Post believe, the USA is actually *international!*) In the past, we haven’t bothered too much with the receipts for those foreign donations because we believed that they were not necessary for filing our Canadian income taxes. When I read the tax forms more carefully this year, though, I was left wondering if we could claim donations made outside of Canada to get a tax deduction.
What the CRA Says on Schedule 9 Donations and Gifts
This was the wording on Schedule 9 that caught my eye
“Donations made to the United Nations, its agencies, and certain charitable organizations outside Canada” (line 334)
The amount you enter on this new line 334 is added directly into your “Total eligible amount of charitable donations and government gifts” just like your gifts to registered Canadian charities.
So can you donate to international charities and claim it on your Canadian taxes? Which charitable organizations outside Canada are included in “certain?”
Which are the “Certain Charitable Organizations Outside Canada” and Which Aren’t?
I went hunting on the CRA website to find out if the health and children’s charities we donate to internationally are “claimable.” Here’s what I found:
Did the Queen Give it the Royal Nod on Behalf of Canada?
“A listed charitable organization outside Canada that has received a gift from Her Majesty in right of Canada is a qualified donee until 24 months from the date of the gift.”
A list of which gifts Queen Elizabeth II has made within the required time period is provided. For the 2012 taxation year, these include
- Education Africa, in South Africa
- The Rhodes Trust, in the United Kingdom
- the Aga Khan Foundation, in Switzerland
- and several others
The list is certainly not long!
Did One of Our Politicians Go to Uni There
At http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/qlfd-dns/qd-lstngs/prscrbdnvrsts-lst-eng.html there is a list of international universities to which you can donate and claim the expense on your Schedule 9.
(Donations to most Canadian universities are also eligible. You can check by looking up the name of the university on the CRA website at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html.)
So if you want to contribute to the University of Tartu, rest assured you can get back a portion of your contribution. (or donate more at no additional total cost to yourself) Or to the Maharishi University of Management, which I’m sure you know is in Iowa.
Gifts to the United Nations and Its Agencies Qualify Too
I could not find a specific list of United Nations agencies on the CRA website, so you might have to contact the CRA to determine if an agency is approved.
What Other International Gifts Can be Claimed on Schedule 9?
At this time, the UN and its agencies, foreign universities, and the organizations favoured by Queen Elizabeth II on Canada’s behalf are the only ones qualified. So our donations to help children in other countries and with world health issues are not eligible.
Still, if you did donate to one of those select few organizations, you should be sure to report your claim on Schedule 9. Assuming you have taxes to pay, you will be able to reduce them using the associated credit. Then you can use the money you didn’t have to pay in taxes to contribute more to the same or another charitable effort, at no additional total cost to yourself!
Do You Work Primarily in the USA or Internationally?
This information is intended for average Canadians who work in Canada, generally donate in Canada and pay taxes only in Canada. It appears that there may some other eligible donations that apply only in very specific circumstances, particularly for Canadians who work in the US (or other countries) and are paid in US dollars (or other currencies). If that describes you, you may want to talk to an accountant about which contributions to US (or international) charities you may be able to claim.
If you read the comments, below, you will find a very useful and detailed description of one case in which a taxpayer could claim donations made to US charities based on income earned in US dollars.
I don’t feel qualified to judge which international (including American) charities would qualify for this tax break in Canada. I’d recommend you look for a tax accountant who specializes in Canadians working abroad if you have a substantial donation that you wish to claim. (It’s possible that in that case you should be getting advance authorization from the CRA before submitting the claim.)
- Charitable Giving Falling to Fewer Canadians
- Optimize your Donations to Charity: Take Advantage of Taxes
- Four Overlooked Benefits of Charitable Donations and the Charitable Tax Credit
- Maximize the Benefit of your Donations to Charity: Helping Food Banks Feed the Most
Do you maximize your claims to charity using Schedule 9? Any tips or issues you’d like to report? Please share your experiences with a comment.