The government in its last budget proposed a Search & Rescue Volunteer Tax Credit. This is to reward those who volunteer for these duties and risk their lives to save us from our own stupidity. This is a non-refundable tax credit for qualifying search and rescue volunteers.
This new non-refundable tax credit is based on an amount of $3,000, for certain search and rescue volunteers. The SRVTC will be calculated by multiplying the lowest personal income tax rate for the year by $3,000. For 2014, the credit will be $450 (15% x $3,000). As a non-refundable tax credit this comes off the amount of taxes owing, and not as a deduction from income.
A search and rescue volunteer must perform at least 200 hours of eligible services in the year, each of which is an hour of:
- Eligible search and rescue volunteer services for an eligible search and rescue organization; or
- Eligible volunteer firefighting services for a fire department.
The hours volunteered for both search and rescue and firefighter activities can be combined. However, you can only claim one credit for the year, either the Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit (VFTC) or the SRVTC.
However, if you were also engaged by 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 search and rescue volunteer services include the services you provided as a search and rescue volunteer to an eligible search and rescue organization (other than eligible volunteer firefighting services), which must consist primarily of the following (primary services):
- Responding to and being on call for search and rescue and related emergency calls as a search and rescue volunteer;
- Attending meetings held by the fire department; and
- Participating in required training related to search and rescue services.
Other services you provided as a search and rescue volunteer to an eligible search and rescue organization are also eligible, such as, the delivery of educational sessions undertaken by the organization. For the purpose of counting the number of hours of eligible search and rescue volunteer services, the number of hours devoted to the primary services described above must exceed the number of hours devoted to other services for a particular organization.
If you have claimed the SRVTC or the VFTC, you may be requested by the CRA to provide a written certificate from:
- The team president or other individual who fills a similar role of each eligible search and rescue organization, attesting to the number of hours of eligible search and rescue volunteer services performed by the individual for the particular organization in the year; and
- The fire chief or a delegated official of each fire department, attesting to the number of hours of eligible volunteer firefighting services performed by the individual for the particular fire department in the year.
As a search and rescue volunteer, you may be eligible for an income exemption of up to $1,000 if you received a payment from a government, municipality, or other public authority for carrying out emergency services. If you choose to claim this exemption, you will not be eligible for the new SRVTC or the VFTC.
How do you claim the SRVTC? Beginning with the 2014 personal income tax and benefit return, a new line will be incorporated into the Schedule 1, Federal Tax to allow you to claim the credit.