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

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.

  • The donor in the UK or US who was going to give to AMF, instead gives to the charity the Canadian wishes to give to.
  • The Canadian donor gives the same amount to AMF instead.
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 (14)

Comment author: Ben_Toner 16 December 2014 09:01:09AM 2 points [-]

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.

Comment author: Tom_Ash  (EA Profile) 20 December 2014 10:25:55AM 1 point [-]

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 :)

Comment author: Paul_Christiano 03 June 2015 04:48:36PM 3 points [-]

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 author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 16 December 2014 12:27:45AM 2 points [-]

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

Comment author: Robert_Wiblin 16 December 2014 12:31:43AM 1 point [-]

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 author: kdbscott 16 December 2014 05:37:50PM 1 point [-]

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 author: Giles 16 December 2014 05:06:31AM 1 point [-]

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?

Comment author: Brian_Tomasik 20 December 2014 02:09:09AM 0 points [-]

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.

Comment author: Tom_Ash  (EA Profile) 20 December 2014 10:23:48AM *  3 points [-]

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 author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 16 December 2014 12:27:26AM *  1 point [-]

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 author: AGB 22 December 2014 10:59:44PM 0 points [-]

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.

Comment author: Jess_Riedel 06 January 2015 09:29:18PM 0 points [-]

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 author: John_Salvatier 19 December 2014 10:26:06PM *  0 points [-]

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?

Comment author: Tom_Ash  (EA Profile) 20 December 2014 10:24:58AM 0 points [-]

Joey or me.