CRA recently released a letter which discusses the taxation of amounts donated to a private charitable foundation by parents to assist teachers with certain costs, in particular if the parent donations result in a taxable benefit for the teachers.
In this situation, a private charitable foundation (associated with a private school) was holding a fundraising gala to benefit the school and teachers were encouraged to attend. Any donations made by parents to the foundation would further reduce the cost of the teachers' tickets. The teachers were not soliciting for these parent donations.
The question was whether the teacher's were receiving a taxable benefit from these donations. CRA provided:
"...amounts received as gifts (i.e. voluntary transfers of real or personal property without consideration) are not subject to tax in the hands of the recipients. However, when a voluntary payment or other valuable transfer or benefit is received by an employee from an employer, or from some other person, by virtue of an office or employment, the amount of the payment or the value of the transfer or benefit is generally included in income pursuant to subsection 5(1) or paragraph 6(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act. Therefore, gifts received by employees are generally taxable unless they are received in the person’s capacity as an individual or fall under the Canada Revenue Agency’s gifts, awards, and social events policy.
In this case, CRA came to the conclusion that the reduction of the ticket costs of the teachers were likely a result of a 'windfall' or a gift received in the person's capacity as an individual, not as an employee of the school so there was no taxable benefit being provided.
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Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.