What Does the Alternative Minimum Tax Mean for Charities?

The Alternative Minimum Tax has been making headlines in the nonprofit world* in response to proposed changes in federal tax law. So, what’s it all about? Here is some background on the AMT, and how you can have your say.  

Let’s start with the basics – why do charities care about tax laws for individuals?  

When Canadians are called to pay our taxes, we calculate them as a percentage of our net income. We can reduce the income we claim – and reduce the taxes we pay – through tax breaks. One way to receive a tax break is by donating funds to registered charities. A percentage of the donation amount is recognized as a credit against our total income declared, reducing our overall taxes owed. 

There can be unintended results when it comes to tax breaks. What if a person is eligible for so many tax breaks that they pay very little or no tax? This is where the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) comes in. It was created to “prevent high income earners and trusts from paying little or no tax as a result of certain tax incentives" (RBC, 2023). If the tax owed is below a certain threshold it triggers the AMT and individuals have to calculate their taxes twice, using the conventional method and the AMT. They pay the higher of the two calculations.  

Changes are being made to the AMT this year to lower tax breaks for high income earners. For most Canadian taxpayers – those not among the highest income earners – the new rules will have no effect. In fact, an increased flat tax exemption will reduce the chances of the AMT being triggered. The changes are also not anticipated to have a substantial effect on taxable income from salaries. They are most likely to increase the tax burden for high income or high net worth individuals gifting a portion of the value of dividends or sale of property, gifting public securities, or gifting property. The changes to AMT include:   

  • The flat tax exemption is increasing, which suppresses taxable income  
  • The basic minimum tax credit (which includes tax credits from donations) is being reduced by 50% of what it used to be, which will increase taxes owing   
  • The AMT will now require taxpayers to claim a portion of capital gains, dividends, public securities and properties, which increases their tax burden  
     

The assumption is that high income earners will be incentivized to reduce their philanthropic contributions. If we take the example of a donor with $5 million in eligible dividends, where once they were incentivized to donate $3.75 million, they might now be incentivized to pay $1.5 million. The difference is vast in this case.  

  • What Does the Alternative Minimum Tax Mean for Charities?

    The Alternative Minimum Tax has been making headlines in the nonprofit world* in response to proposed changes in federal tax law. So, what’s it all about? Here is some background on the AMT, and how you can have your say.  

    Let’s start with the basics – why do charities care about tax laws for individuals?  

    When Canadians are called to pay our taxes, we calculate them as a percentage of our net income. We can reduce the income we claim – and reduce the taxes we pay – through tax breaks. One way to receive a tax break is by donating funds to registered charities. A percentage of the donation amount is recognized as a credit against our total income declared, reducing our overall taxes owed. 

    There can be unintended results when it comes to tax breaks. What if a person is eligible for so many tax breaks that they pay very little or no tax? This is where the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) comes in. It was created to “prevent high income earners and trusts from paying little or no tax as a result of certain tax incentives" (RBC, 2023). If the tax owed is below a certain threshold it triggers the AMT and individuals have to calculate their taxes twice, using the conventional method and the AMT. They pay the higher of the two calculations.  

    Changes are being made to the AMT this year to lower tax breaks for high income earners. For most Canadian taxpayers – those not among the highest income earners – the new rules will have no effect. In fact, an increased flat tax exemption will reduce the chances of the AMT being triggered. The changes are also not anticipated to have a substantial effect on taxable income from salaries. They are most likely to increase the tax burden for high income or high net worth individuals gifting a portion of the value of dividends or sale of property, gifting public securities, or gifting property. The changes to AMT include:   

    • The flat tax exemption is increasing, which suppresses taxable income  
    • The basic minimum tax credit (which includes tax credits from donations) is being reduced by 50% of what it used to be, which will increase taxes owing   
    • The AMT will now require taxpayers to claim a portion of capital gains, dividends, public securities and properties, which increases their tax burden  
       

    The assumption is that high income earners will be incentivized to reduce their philanthropic contributions. If we take the example of a donor with $5 million in eligible dividends, where once they were incentivized to donate $3.75 million, they might now be incentivized to pay $1.5 million. The difference is vast in this case.  

  • What Alberta Nonprofits Need to Know Post-election

    Albertans went to the polls on May 29 - some of us proudly bearing our party hats!

    The results? 59.5% of eligible voters turned up at the polls, representing an 8% drop from 2019’s 67.5%, but including a record-breaking 758,640 participating in the advanced polls. The UCP was re-elected with 52.6% of the popular vote and 49 seats, and the NDP garnered 44% of the popular vote and 38 seats - Alberta’s largest official opposition on record.

    What this means for Alberta nonprofits:

    • Take the opportunity to congratulate your new representatives!  

    • The budget passed in March 2023, and the re-elected UCP made additional commitments during the election period. You can assess how this impacts your organization and sub-sector.  

    • Communicating the needs of your organization with the government and opposition is always recommended. Both government and critics can introduce issues in the Legislature, set meetings, and ask questions of the current administration. 

    To help you with next steps, we’re sharing three things: 1) who your ministers and critics are; 2) our advocacy tools; and 3) key items in the UCP Platform and Government of Alberta Budget.

  • Platform Priorities Updates May 18-25

    The NDP responded to the Rozsa Foundation and The Nonprofit Vote’s VoteArtsAB campaign with a commitment to:  

    • provide a 50% funding increase to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts;  
    • provide a standalone Arts Capital Grants Program to support a range of projects in urban centres; and  
    • create a Live Entertainment Advisory Council to showcase and amplify Alberta talent, and coordinate and attract world-class shows and events to Alberta.  

    The UCP have not yet responded to this campaign, and we will update you as soon as they do. We also look forward to analyzing all party platforms once released in terms of their alignment with nonprofit sector priorities 

    Hear it directly from nonprofit leaders: our sector’s work is essential and needs support. We’re excited to launch the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CxrQnFOjQ0&t=14s, with many thanks to our colleagues for sharing their time and expertise!

  • 2023 Platform Priorities May 11-May 18

    Our 2023 Election Priorities 

    The NDP responded formally to The Nonprofit Vote’s Platform Priorities this week, acknowledging the strain the sector has experienced and committing to incorporate all five requests. Details are emerging about their financial commitments to the sector. So far this party has pledged to: 1) Increase the Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and Family and Community Safety (FCS) programs by $80 million, from $160 million currently to $240 million; and 2) Increasing the Community Facility Enhancement Program funding from $50 million currently to $75 million annually, with an additional $100 million annual capital investment fund.

    This positive response is encouraging, and we will keep you posted when we receive a response from the UCP. We look forward to seeing the details of these commitments, and will release an analysis of the NDP and UCP platforms once both are released.  

    The Nonprofit Vote made the cover of the Lethbridge Herald this week with a candidate forum hosted by NPV Director Volunteer Lethbridge. Supportive statements about the nonprofit sector were made by the UCP and NDP candidates in attendance. Read the story here! 

    Election Advocacy 

    Don’t forget to check out The Women’s Health Coalition candidates forum in Edmonton on May 13. Sign up here!   

    Spar Matters launched a fancy new website that includes election asks and election resources. Keep Alberta Moving calls for increased investment in Sports, Physical Activity and Recreation (SPAR) to reverse historically low funding, and as a proven strategy to reduce health care costs and improve quality of life. They call for recognition in all party platforms, representation in government through an Associate Minister or Ministry of Wellness focused on upstream programs. To support this, check out their online letter template here 

    Condo Owners Forum has released four priorities for this election that include: Energy Rebates, Dispute Resolution, Energy Efficiency and a Condo Database, to better meet the needs of condo owners. They post about these issues in this blog, and a pdf of their priorities and candidate questions is available here.   

    VoteArtsAB is a campaign courtesy of fellow The Nonprofit Vote Director, the Rozsa Foundation, to double funding to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts over 3 years. Check it out here.  

  • 2023 Platform Priorities May 4-May 11

    Our 2023 Election Priorities 

    Get out your party hats – it’s officially election season! The writ dropped on Monday, with election day called for May 29.  

    You too can experience the unbridled joy of democracy with the help of this updated 2023 Provincial Election Toolkit. It includes great info on the when, where and how of voting; priority nonprofit issues; how party platforms align with nonprofit priorities (coming soon), how parties align with your values - and more.  

    Maybe you need greater depth of information for nonprofit advocacy during election period. Good news – we've got that too. Check out our updated Policy Advocacy Guide.   

    The UCP released their platform this week, which you can check out here. We’ll offer analysis of party platforms once all have been released.  

    Election Advocacy 

    We asked you to share your election advocacy efforts and you all are busy! Lots of great opportunities to engage on issues of importance:  

    • The Alberta Council of Disability Services has identified three election priorities: 1) A skilled and highly paid workforce; 2) Increased system capacity; and 3) Comprehensive and timeline data. Find out more here. 
    •  The Canadian Bar Association released its Agenda for Justice 2023 - a roadmap to improve the justice system with more than 30 recommendations.  
    • Inclusion Alberta is hosting a virtual candidates’ forum on May 9 at 7PM, with candidates confirmed from the UCP and NDP. There will be 5 key themes: access to and funding for key programs; education; culturally relevant services for Indigenous people; housing; and income and employment.  
  • Platform Priorities Update April 27-May 3

    YOUR WEEKLY UPDATE ON THE NONPROFIT VOTE 2023 PLATFORM PRIORITIES 

    Our 2023 Election Priorities 

    On Monday, April 24th, The Nonprofit Vote hosted Rachel Notley to an audience of nearly 300 nonprofit leaders at The Grand Theatre in Calgary. There will be lots to come in our analysis of all party platforms, but one notable tidbit from this event is that NDP Leader Rachel Notley announced a $240M commitment to FCSS and related programs, representing $80M above the existing budget. We look forward to hosting leader of the UCP, Danielle Smith at a future date to hear her commitments for the sector.  

    Election Advocacy 

    Women’s Health Week 2023 is a pan-Canadian initiative of the Women’s Health Coalition (WHC) that raises awareness, inspires bold conversations and engagement to address barriers and biases in women’s health. This group is engaging in election advocacy, including hosting all candidate forums in Calgary and Edmonton 

  • Platform Priorities Update April 13-20

    YOUR WEEKLY UPDATE ON THE NONPROFIT VOTE 2023 PLATFORM PRIORITIES 

    Our 2023 Election Priorities 

    Join us! We asked the UCP and NDP leaders to present their vision for the nonprofit sector and are pleased to present An Afternoon with Rachel Notley on April 24. Learn more and RSVP here. We look forward to confirming a date with Danielle Smith in the future.  

    Our sector has a responsibility to speak up about the issues that matter to us. If we stay silent, we let others drive the agenda, and we’re less likely to see commitments that support our essential work. That’s why every week, we highlight priority issues raised by members of our sector, that remind political candidates and parties that #nonprofitsvote. On the docket this week: CPAWS and the Social Policy Collaborative! Please be in touch if you’d like to see your nonprofit advocacy work featured.  

    We’re also giving love to the 5th of The Nonprofit Vote Platform Priorities: An Empowered Sector. As experts in our field, we want to increase our sector’s impact by ensuring we are included in shaping funding processes – and improve the responsiveness, impact and efficiency of our critical services. To learn more, check out the priorities here.   

    Nonprofit workers are nearly 300,000 strong, and our work benefits the 4.4 million people who call Alberta home. Our voices matter. 

    Election Advocacy 

    In September 2022, the Social Policy Collaborative shared their three key policy recommendations to grow Alberta’s affordable housing stock. They include:

    1. Capital Investment: Commit $90 million each year to deliver on the province’s affordable housing goals
    2.  Resiliency: Review operating agreements with service providers to better understand appropriate funding levels to address growing challenges facing vulnerable Albertans
    3. Resiliency: Provide an immediate 10% increase and fully index existing operating agreements to inflation. Click here to find out more. 

    Election Resources 

    Voting for nature in the upcoming election? CPAWS has resources to help you evaluate party platforms. Critical issues they have identified include: land-use planning that protects nature, participating in Canada’s goal to protect 30% of our land and water by 2030, participating in Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas, protecting our water, and increasing research funding.  

    To be in touch with your elected representatives to discuss the importance of protecting Alberta’s natural spaces, CPAWS has put together this helpful Toolkit for Effective Action.  

  • 2023 Platform Priorities Update April 6 - 13

    YOUR WEEKLY UPDATE ON THE NONPROFIT VOTE 2023 PLATFORM PRIORITIES 

    Our 2023 Election Priorities 
    Over 100 of you have already sent a letter to party leaders asking them to make nonprofits a core part of their election platforms! We are happy to see strong support for the 5 priorities: Appropriate Funding, A Workforce Strategy, Better Data Collection, A Door to Government, and An Empowered Sector and let’s keep that momentum going!  

    Election Advocacy 
    On April 24, join The Nonprofit Vote as Hon. Rachel Notley delivers a keynote address on her vision for Alberta’s nonprofits.  

    The Nonprofit Vote is a nonpartisan collaborative home for shared advocacy in support of Alberta’s nonprofit sector. We have invited the leaders of the Alberta UCP and Alberta NDP to present their vision for our sector. We are pleased to feature Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley on April 24 and look forward to confirming an event with UCP leader and Premier Danielle Smith in the future. Tickets are available here.

  • 2023 Platform Priorities Update April 5-April 12

    Our 2023 Election Priorities 

    Over 100 of you have already sent a letter to party leaders asking them to make nonprofits a core part of their election platforms! We are happy to see strong support for the 5 priorities: Appropriate Funding, A Workforce Strategy, Better Data Collection, A Door to Government, and An Empowered Sector and let’s keep that momentum going!  

    Election Advocacy 

    On April 24, join The Nonprofit Vote as Hon. Rachel Notley delivers a keynote address on her vision for Alberta’s nonprofits.  

    The Nonprofit Vote is a nonpartisan collaborative home for shared advocacy in support of Alberta’s nonprofit sector. We have invited the leaders of the Alberta UCP and Alberta NDP to present their vision for our sector. We are pleased to feature Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley on April 24 and look forward to confirming an event with UCP leader and Premier Danielle Smith in the future.   

    Tickets available at this link.   

  • 2023 Platform Priorities Update March 29-April 5

    YOUR WEEKLY UPDATE ON THE NONPROFIT VOTE 2023 PLATFORM PRIORITIES 

    Our 2023 Election Priorities  

    The 5 priorities CCVO and The Nonprofit Vote launched just a couple weeks ago are grabbing attention in the legislature! In this exchange from last week, Marie Renaud, NDP critic for Community and Social Services, indicates her support for CCVO’s work and Jason Luan, Minister of Culture, responds with support for CCVO’s advocacy. It’s great to see cross-party support for the nonprofit sector!  

    In the News 

    Here is the full CTV video coverage of the launch of our Platform Priorities.   

     
    Election Advocacy  
     

    Over the next two months leading up to the election, we’ll share what others are asking to see in provincial party platforms.  

    This week, our eyes are on Calgary: The City of Calgary and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.  

    The City of Calgary wants to hear from provincial parties on 5 themes: economic resilience, social resilience, climate resilience, the downtown and modern government. In the past, the City has solicited responses through surveys, but are looking to switch up their approach this year to encourage responses that are more detailed and tailored specifically to the needs of Calgary.  

    The 5 election priorities released by the Calgary Chamber in February include: Fiscal responsibility, Affordability and rising costs, Economic diversification and competitiveness, Talent and labour, and Strategic infrastructure investments. They highlight meeting the needs of today while planning for long-term fiscal sustainability; alleviating the pressure of rising costs on businesses and families; supporting innovation and competitive access to capital for innovators; increasing the talent pool through education, access to childcare and streamlined immigration systems; and investments in infrastructure that create jobs and attract talent – by being a vibrant, safe, and accessible place to live.  

    We see a lot of common ground between our priorities and those we highlighted today, and will be looking for win-win scenarios in party platforms.