Here are a few important things every charity should consider before it issues a receipt:
- When was the gift received? A charity can only issue a receipt for the 2011 tax year if the donation was received in 2011. If the postmark on the envelope containing the donor’s payment is dated on or before December 31, 2011, this is also acceptable.
- What information needs to be on a receipt? Remember, there are different requirements for receipts issued for cash gifts, and for non-cash gifts (gifts-in-kind). For a complete list of these requirements see What information must appear on an official donation receipt? For cash donations, a registered charity may issue one cumulative receipt for the entire calendar year. See our Web pages for a sample official donation receipt.
- What should a charity look out for? Charities must not be involved in schemes or arrangements that require them to write donation receipts for an amount greater than the value of the gift received. Be aware of fundraising and donation schemes that appear too good to be true.
- Can a charity lend its registration number to another organization? Under no circumstances should a registered charity issue donation receipts on behalf of another organization, or lend its registration number to another organization for receipting purposes. A registered charity is responsible for all receipts issued under its name and registration number. It must be able to account for the corresponding donations on its annual information return and in its books and records.
Although there is no requirement in the Income Tax Act for a registered charity to issue an official donation receipt or to issue a receipt within a certain timeframe, the Canada Revenue Agency suggests that registered charities issue receipts to donors by February 28 of the calendar year that follows the year of the donation. This allows taxpayers to claim their donations on time, on their personal annual income tax returns.
Canada Revenue Agency