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Charitable Donations – Within a Corporation or Personal?

I’m on the prowl again for a charity that aligns with my values and provides top value for those they are trying to help (ie. keeps their admin expenses low).  Within this search, for you business owners out there, I came to the question of whether it’s better to donate to charity within a private corporation or under a personal name.

Lets review how the charitable donations affects taxation under both structures.

Charity Donations under a Personal Name

As I explained in the article “how the donation tax credit works“, charitable donations have the additional benefit of giving a tax credit to an individual.  Donations for the year (registered charities only) are added together and the tax credit is calculated.  The first $200 will receive a tax credit equivalent to the lowest marginal rate (federal and provincial combined) and the remaining will receive a tax credit at the highest marginal rate (federal and provincial combined).  You’ll have to check your specific province to see what the lowest and highest marginal rates are.

Charity Donations under a Private Corporation

Charitable donations to a registered charity made under a private corporation are taxed differently than an individual.  Where an individual gets a tiered tax credit, a corporate donation is simply an expense, and reduces income dollar for dollar.

To determine which is better, you’ll have to understand how corporate taxes work.  Basically the small business tax exemption allows a small business to be taxed at a preferred rate.  For active income less than $500k (a lot of small businesses), the corporation pays around 16% income tax.  The tax rate jumps, however, if the corporation derives most of it’s income from investments.  Income from investments within a corporation is taxed at the highest corporate rate (high forties).

Corporate or Personal?

So with the background established, which is better, a charitable donation under a personal name or the private corporation?  The answer is that it depends on the situation.  If it’s a simple private corporation with active income, then it’s probably best to donate under personal as it will give you a higher tax deduction.  In this scenario, donating under the corp would give you a tax benefit of about 16% whereas a personal donation would result in at least a 40% tax benefit (providing the total donations for the year is much greater than $200).

The line isn’t so clear if the corporation is primarily used for to generate investment income.  In this case, the tax return in either scenario will be fairly close as the marginal tax rates will be similar.


The Costco Debate – Thoughts and Tips

There’s a discussion on Canadian Money Forum on the merits and downfalls of Costco membership.  The thread caught my interest as I am a big fan of the wholesale retailer.  There’s something about the shiny electronics when walking in the entrance, nibbling on free food samples while perusing, and the low prices that keep me coming back for more.

Costco carries high quality products at very competitive prices, what more can you ask for from a retailer?  I could even go as far as saying that it’s my favorite store.  As I’m sure you all have opinions on Costco, here are my thoughts on the pros and cons of shopping at Costco.

The Upside

  • Quality for a Good Price – This is, in my opinion, what gives Costco an edge over other big box stores.  That is, they offer high quality products at very competitive prices.  Electronics can sometimes be found cheaper elsewhere, but their price point for other items, like brand name clothing, is hard to beat.  On bulk packaged items, the price per unit is typically lower than other discount stores.
  • Free Samples – This is a big feature for us as we enjoy snacking on free samples while we shop (who doesn’t?).  If you’re a sampler as well, even though it’s busier, try going on a Saturday afternoon when their sample people are out in full force.
  • Convenient – They offer groceries, tech toys, music, household goods, books, clothing, prescription filling, baked goods, oil changes, and photos all under one roof.  All of which at a very competitive price.
  • Return Policy – Costco has one of the best return policies around with no questions asked.  It builds consumer confidence knowing that the retailer stands behind their products.

The Downside

  • Excessive – Buying products in bulk, like food, can sometimes result in either eating or wasting more.  This can mean spending more if we’re not careful.  If we buy meat in bulk, we typically separate into portions and freeze.
  • Membership Cost – I’m not a big fan of annual membership fees to shop, but Costco is one of those stores where I can justify the cost due to the savings throughout the year.  When the annual fee is due, I usually surf around for the newest Costco membership coupon code which gives anywhere from $10 – $25 off in the form of a gift card.
  • Long Lines – As most big box stores are busy, Costco is particularly so, especially on the weekends.  One way around this is to go during off peak hours such as during the week right after work.
  • No Visa/Mastercard – Costco only accepts cash/debit or American Express as payment.  Unfortunately, Visa/Mastercard or any other credit card isn’t accepted.  This is a bit disappointing as I’m a credit card points collector.  There is a way around this though, see below for details.

Some Tips:

  • Get those Credit Card Points -  Do you use a credit card for your consumer purchases to collect the points?  If so, there’s a way to get around the Costco limited payment choices.  Simply purchase a gift card online ( using your favorite points credit card.
  • Shop in Store Without a Membership – If you don’t like the annual fee, you can shop in store without a membership if you have a Costco gift card.  Of course, you’ll have to get a friend with a membership to get you one first.  There is no surcharge, and if the gift card is insufficient to cover the purchase, the remainder can be paid via debit/cash/AMEX.
  • Membership Discount – As mentioned above, before renewing your membership, do a search for the newest Costco membership code.  I’ve used a code 2 years in a row and have saved $25 each time.  I believe the latest round of coupons are for $10 Costco gift cards for renewals/new members.

Other Opinions on Costco:

What do you think about Costco?


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