Turning inner space into outer space

August 8, 2011

Who benefits from donations at the till?

A few days ago, someone commenting at The Daily News site asked a good question: When you make a donation at the till, who gets the income tax receipt?

I am often asked to give money to a good cause when checking out at the grocery store. Sometimes there are even incentives, such as Air Miles or coupons if you give a certain amount. In the case of the Food Bank, all you have to do is rip off a coupon and throw it in with the groceries.

But never once have I been offered a receipt. So last weekend, I decided to bring this up with the cashier. As expected, she was bewildered by the question. She said I might be able to use the entry on the store receipt, but I pointed out this likely wouldn’t cut it with Revenue Canada.

She was obviously stumped, so I moved on.

The question of the income tax receipt is important. You might not give much at the till, but over the course of time it adds up. And just imagine how much it adds up for the store and the company that owns it. Safeway and Walmart, among others, take untold thousands of dollars and pass the cash along. Do they get the receipt? Do they get the tax benefit?

I suppose it could be argued that companies that collect money from customers should have some kind of incentive — and a deduction on their taxes would be a good one. Still, it seems less than transparent to do things this way.

The next time I’m asked for a donation, I might take it up with the manager. Since it’s my money that’s being donated, shouldn’t I be the one to get the deduction? I really hate the feeling that I might be getting scammed.