Charitable tax shelters have been around for quite some time. We first wrote about them in 2004 with Tax Tip 04-04. Since 2004, the CRA has written many times on the dangers of acquiring a charitable tax shelter. In addition, virtually all of the case law involving charitable tax shelters has not been in favour of the taxpayer.
Notwithstanding the above and the dangers involved in engaging in charitable tax shelters, there is no shortage of promoters who still try to prey on people who believe that charitable tax shelters are worth the risk. One recent newspaper article explored the merits (or lack thereof) of a recently promoted charitable tax shelter. The article was interesting in that it also called for increased regulation involving the marketing of charitable tax shelters.
The Income Tax Act is littered with proposed amendments in an attempt to tighten up the legislation regarding clever schemes that attempt to circumvent the spirit and intent of the law involving donations.
Bottom line, a few messages arise regarding charitable tax shelters that you should be aware of:
Other comments from the CRA are contained in their December 19, 2011 press release.
Overall, if you are expecting a nice Christmas present from the purchase of a charitable tax shelter, expect to have to return it for no "credit."
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