Alberta non-profits campaign to remove capital gains tax on gifts of shares, real estate
Corporate charity has declined as result of downturn in oil and gas sector
Arts and charitable organizations across Alberta are appealing to federal political parties to make a change that would allow them to keep more money from generous donors.
They're asking that the parties commit to removing the capital gains tax on gifts of shares and real estate to non-profit organizations.
"I don't believe that this is a controversial move," said David Mitchell, head of the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations.
"I think there tends to be support in principle from the major political parties, but by being part of a widespread, broad-based campaign of community leaders showing support for this, we are believing that the federal election is a good time to promote this."
More than a dozen organizations are using the federal election as the basis for their call to have political parties support changing the rules on the capital gains tax.
Mitchell says this wouldn't be a big hit for the federal treasury.
"The decline in tax revenue to the federal government would be relatively minimal when we think of the big boost it would represent to a number of charities and community groups right across our province, right across our country," he said.
Arts groups in Calgary have seen a big drop in their corporate donations due to the downturn in the oil and gas sector.
Heather Kitchen with Calgary Opera says this tax change could encourage more private donations, which would help her organization.
"We're all finding that with the decrease in corporate donations there's been a decrease in the players, as it were, and a lot of small businesses are interested in making smaller level donations," she said.
The organizations also say making this change would make Canada's tax rules the same as the United States, giving Canadian organizations greater ability to compete with their American counterparts.
"I think the time has just come. It's increasingly challenging, particularly in Alberta, for not-for-profit organizations, charitable organizations, to sustain themselves," said Paul Dornian, president and CEO of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
"If the government opens the doors a little bit wider to allow private support for these important organizations, I think everybody wins, the communities, when it puts the organizations in a healthier state."
Dornian said the move would encourage donors to donate, while making not-for-profits less reliant on government monies.
"It would definitely make a difference, almost immediately," Dornian said.
"I've been talking to a pair of donors who would love to give us a gift of property. We receive a lot of gifts of publicly traded stock, and that can be good for tax planning and as well as helping a charitable organization that you believe in. So extending the same opportunity to donate shares of private companies, I think, would also be a big benefit to any charitable organization."
Mitchell also says it could encourage more donations from individuals to groups in Alberta that have seen corporate support dwindle in recent years as a result of the downturn in the oil and gas sector.
With files from Scott Dippel