Harper announces tax relief for service club members

PRIME Minister Stephen Harper on Sunday unveiled a new measure to support service clubs in Canada in recognition of the valuable contributions these clubs provide, and to encourage greater participation.  Under the new measure, service club membership fees can be included in an individual’s claim under the annual Charitable Donations Tax Credit.

“If we can support service clubs to keep doing what they already do so well, I am confident that Canadian communities from coast to coast to coast will be better as a result,” said Harper.

There are many service clubs in Canada such as the Royal Canadian Legion, Knights of Columbus, Rotary, the Lions, Masons and Shriners, Elks of Canada, Kiwanis, KinCanada, and Optimists.  Service clubs are involved in countless initiatives ranging from providing opportunities for young people, Canadians with disabilities, and vulnerable communities, to eradicating diseases and providing disaster relief overseas, to supporting community infrastructure projects. In recent years, demographic changes have put pressure on service club membership.

Approximately one million Canadians could benefit from the new measure, which has a 15% to 29% value depending on the individual’s overall charitable donations. This measure builds on other initiatives by the Harper Government to encourage charitable giving such as broadening the tax exemption on capital gains associated with certain types of donations; the First-Time Donor’s Super Credit on cash donations of up to $1,000; and allowing charities to diversify their investment portfolios and use modern technology to conduct lotteries.

“We make this commitment to service club members because we believe that local citizens – not government bureaucrats – know best how to prioritize benefits and provide solutions in their communities,” Harper said.

He noted that the Opposition parties have different plans. “It’s reasonable to assume that Justin [Trudeau] opposes a tax measure such as this one, available to all service club members, on the basis that it is ‘unfair,’” alleged Harper.

“Thomas Mulcair’s NDP believes that tax incentives to the charitable sector will reduce government revenues – money they want to keep in order to provide expensive, ineffective programs from Ottawa,” said Harper. “Mulcair’s NDP believes that the government can provide services better than the voluntary sector.”

“The choice is clear,” he pointed out. “Only our party will continue to encourage charitable giving through tax breaks in order to make it easier for Canadians to give back to their communities.”+