You can claim $3,000 for the volunteer firefighters’ amount (VFA) or the search and rescue volunteers’ amount (SRVA), but not both, if you meet the following conditions:
- you were a volunteer firefighter or a search and rescue volunteer during the year; and
- you completed at least 200 hours of eligible volunteer firefighting services or eligible search and rescue volunteer services in the year.
The hours volunteered for both search and rescue and firefighter activities can be combined to claim either the VFA or the SRVA. You cannot claim both.
However, if you provided services to the same organization, other than as a volunteer, for the same or similar duties, you cannot include any hours related to that organization in determining if you have met the 200-hour threshold.
Eligible volunteer firefighting services with a fire department include:
- responding to and being on call for firefighting and related emergency calls as a firefighter;
- attending meetings held by the fire department; and
- participating in required training related to preventing or suppressing fire.
Eligible search and rescue volunteer services with an eligible search and rescue organization include:
- responding to and being on call for search and rescue and related emergency calls as a search and rescue volunteer;
- attending meeting held by the organization; and
- participating in required training related to search and rescue services.
An eligible organization is a search and rescue organization that is a member of the Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada, the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, or the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, or whose status as a search and rescue organization is recognized by a provincial, municipal or public authority. Your search and rescue organization can tell you if it is eligible.
As a volunteer firefighter or search and rescue volunteer, you may be eligible to claim a $1,000 exemption instead of the VFA or the SRVA. If you choose to claim this income exemption, you will not be eligible for the volunteer firefighters’ amount or the search and rescue volunteers’ amount. The income exemption related to emergency services volunteers is shown in box 87 of your T4 slips.
Whether you are filing electronically or filing a paper return, you do not need to send any documents. Keep them in case the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) asks to see them later.
The CRA may ask you to provide certification from the fire department or the search and rescue organization to confirm the number of hours of eligible volunteer firefighting or search and rescue volunteer services you performed.
If you would like more information on various programs, deductions and credits that can help save you money, contact GB Pilley & Associates Ltd., Chartered Professional Accountants at 604 926 3522.