Help a Canadian give with a tax-deduction by swapping donations with them!

post by Robert_Wiblin · 2014-12-16T00:05:45.810Z · EA · GW · Legacy · 14 comments

TL;DR: If you are in the UK or USA, and are planning to give to the Against Malaria Foundation, you can help a Canadian make their donation to a different effective organisation tax deductible. Please let us know in the comments so we can facilitate more of these swaps.

Unfortunately many charities people here may want to give to are not registered charities in Canada or Australia, as becoming registered there is challenging and the number of donors available in those countries is not as large as in the UK or USA.

Tides Canada, a 'fiscal sponsor', used to allow Canadians to make grants to charities in other countries, but for logistical reasons have not offered this service for a while.

However, there is a way Canadians can still make tax deductible donations by 'pairing off' with someone who is planning to give to the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) in the US or UK. This takes advantage of the fact that AMF is directly tax-deductible in Canada.

This way both donations are tax deductible.

If you plan to give to AMF, please leave a comment below so people can find one another and set up these swaps!

Note that doing this is completely legal.

Unfortunately, as far as I know, no popular effective altruist charities are registered in Australia yet, so I don't think this is possible to do there.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Ben_Toner · 2014-12-16T09:01:09.865Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Unfortunately, as far as I know, no popular effective altruist charities are registered in Australia yet, so I don't think this is possible to do there.

Also note that even if there were a tax-deductible EA charity in Australia, it's not at all clear that your donation to the Australian charity would be tax deductible if your actual purpose was to donate via a swap to a non-tax-deductible charity.

Replies from: Tom_Ash
comment by Tom_Ash · 2014-12-20T10:25:55.705Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'd be surprised if the Australian government has made a law about what your purpose in doing an otherwise legal act (donating to an Australian charity) is :)

Replies from: Paul_Christiano
comment by Paul_Christiano · 2015-06-03T16:48:36.484Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'm afraid you'd be surprised by large parts of the tax code, which I think can only be described as "perverse."

If you make an agreement "I'll do X if in exchange you do Y," that isn't even a perverse case. Obviously the tax code will treat that differently than doing X without any expectation of reciprocity, and the treatment depends on Y. E.g., if Y is "give a scholarship to my child," then this probably isn't going to be taxed as a donation, even though both X and Y could be deductible in isolation.

comment by Peter Wildeford (Peter_Hurford) · 2014-12-16T00:27:45.455Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

It might be good to have Charity Science coordinate this, as they're trying to expand tax deductibility in Canada.

Replies from: Robert_Wiblin
comment by Robert_Wiblin · 2014-12-16T00:31:43.153Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Very happy to hand this over to CS! I am looking for people to pair donations with for donations to CEA, so will keep an eye on the thread though. :)

comment by kdbscott · 2014-12-16T17:37:50.507Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Commenting here to express my willingness to participate, however this pans out. I expect my contribution won't be more than a couple hundred dollars.

comment by Giles · 2014-12-16T05:06:31.659Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Note that doing this is completely legal

Would it still be completely legal if there was a more automatic and markety way of organizing this, such as certificates of impact? At what point does a system of exchange become too much like money and hence taxable?

Replies from: Brian_Tomasik
comment by Brian_Tomasik · 2014-12-20T02:09:09.798Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'm curious about the legality as well. Scaling up something like this as an online platform could have huge value, but I would also guess that governments wouldn't like it. Maybe this is why such a service doesn't appear to exist yet.

Replies from: Tom_Ash
comment by Tom_Ash · 2014-12-20T10:23:48.695Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I've spoken to TIDES Canada about this at length, and they assured me that it's definitely legal. TIDES is a large organisation, so this is good evidence. I've also taken a more cursory look at tax law and it didn't appear to violate this. This makes sense when you think about it: donors are just donating to charities in their countries (which is perfectly legal), and coordinating doing this amongst themselves (discussion and coordination generally being legal except in a few explicitly carved out circumstances).

comment by Peter Wildeford (Peter_Hurford) · 2014-12-16T00:27:26.103Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'm going to be donating ~$1K to AMF (Update: now $1.5k) from the US in early January 2015. Please let me know how I can help.

comment by AGB · 2014-12-22T22:59:44.644Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I strongly expect to give a large amount of money to AMF (>$10000) over the next few months. Happy to help.

I'm from the UK.

Replies from: Jess_Riedel
comment by Jess_Riedel · 2015-01-06T21:29:18.624Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Howdy, I'm trying to make a donation to CEA of about $4,000 this month from Canada. Would be very glad to swap with you for AMF. If you're still up for this, please shoot me an email.

comment by John_Salvatier · 2014-12-19T22:26:06.049Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure if I'm donating to AMF this year, but we're hosting a Donation Decision Day in Seattle on December 28th, and there will probably be people there donating. Who should I contact if we have people that are donating to AMF?

Replies from: Tom_Ash
comment by Tom_Ash · 2014-12-20T10:24:58.777Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Joey or me.