It’s Giving Season: Tax Credits for Charitable Donations vs. Political Contributions

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By: Alexandra Tzannidakis In the public mind, the idea of tax credits for giving to ‘good causes’ sometimes leads to confusion and conflation of charitable tax credits and political tax credits. The truth is that charities and political causes are legally very distinct concepts (there is no such thing as a political charity) and although an individual can get tax credits for donating to both, the schemes that govern the reporting and calculation of these credits are quite different. With the holiday season upon us,…

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The Penny Drops

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It is common knowledge that taxation authorities around the world are playing catch up with the developments of new technology. One of the most interesting areas of such ongoing technological development has been the advent of Bitcoin. But at least in the case of Bitcoin it seems that the Income Tax Act’s broad general definitions mean the Department of Finance is ahead of the game for once. Bitcoin is a type of virtual currency. It is not issued by any central bank nor subject to…

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Beyond the Grave: Balancing Confidence and Flexibility in Gift Planning

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Balancing Confidence and Flexibility in Gift Planning By:  Adam Aptowitzer One of the unstated pillars of gift planning is to find ways of assuring a donor that his/her wishes will be carried out after death.  Unfortunately, this can be a double-edged sword. While it may help convince a donor to give now the future needs of a charity can be difficult to anticipate. Consequently, it is important to balance flexibility with respect for the donor’s wishes when discussing gift planning arrangements. Typically when donors are…

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Back to the Tax Basics

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Lawyers and advisors in the charitable sector often discuss high level tax topics in articles and seminars – but, for many, tax remains a dark and mystical art. Indeed, even those who once professed an understanding of the system may, over time, lose touch with the basics if they do not remain current on developments. This is a somewhat reasonable reaction to the complexity of anything tax related, but ostriches do not have a good track record at avoiding difficulties. A donor’s reason to understand…

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Start the Clock – New Case on Suing Tax Advisors

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By: Adam Aptowitzer It is no secret that over the past few years there have been a number of circumstances which have led to lawsuits against tax lawyers and accountants. These have primarily been related to the proliferation of tax shelters but, as always, there are the usual negligence claims resulting from more typical work. One recent Ontario case is instructive in discussing the limitation period relating to such cases. It is common amongst the various provinces that a civil lawsuit cannot be brought after…

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Seduction, Money and Tax New Court Decision: Sensible but Unsettling

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In the still smoldering wreckage of the charitable donation tax shelters a new case has surfaced, which dealt with the involvement of some of the planners. Interestingly the case does not attack the individuals for their role as planners but rather for their own participation in an individualized version of the tax shelter they later peddled to others. And in this interesting reversal of the cobbler’s children phenomenon the individuals donated millions of dollars through the scheme rather than the tens of thousands that seemed…

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Supreme Court Rules Against Director of a Charity

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By:  Adam Aptowitzer As Counsel for Ms. Guindon in her case with the Minister of National Revenue we have kept our readers abreast of developments as the appeal wended its way to the Supreme Court of Canada. On July 31st, 2015 the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the matter thus ending the appeal for Ms. Guindon. The Supreme Court found that Ms. Guindon was indeed civilly liable for her actions related to the issuance of tax receipts by a charity. By way of reminder,…

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Charter Protection Cannot be Taken for Granted

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By: Adam Aptowitzer It is almost trite to say that the Canada Revenue Agency is dedicated to the administration of the income tax system in this country. There are exceptions to this, of course, the most obvious being the regulation of charities. However, a recent amendment to the Income Tax Act giving the CRA new powers may have gone beyond adding ancillary duties and created a secondary mandate for the agency. New subsection 241(9.5) requires the Agency to deliver evidence of certain criminal code offences…

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An Oscar Worthy Performance

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By: Adam Aptowitzer Readers will likely agree that the study and practice of taxation can be both interesting and, at least at times, exciting. It is therefore surprising that there are not more movies featuring tax lawyers and accountants. One would imagine these movies would show a tax litigator with a well-muscled calculator finger fighting off the faceless hordes of CRA auditors to free the unjustly reassessed taxpayer in distress. Yet, despite the self-image of those in private practice as the Luke Skywalkers of the…

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