Canada Disability Tax Credit

Are Sponsorships Tax-Deductible in 2024?

Sponsorships play an important role in supporting various causes and activities in Canada. However, the tax treatment of sponsorships can be complex. This article examines whether sponsorships are tax-deductible in Canada in 2024.

Types of Sponsorships

There are several common types of sponsorships in Canada:

  • Event sponsorships: Sponsoring a charity event, sports tournament, cultural festival etc. in exchange for advertising and promotion.
  • Cause-related marketing: Companies tie sales of a product or service to donations to a cause. For example, a portion of sales is donated when consumers buy the product.
  • Non-profit organization sponsorships: Businesses provide funds to non-profits like arts organizations, universities, hospitals in return for advertising and promotion.
  • Media sponsorships: Funding media productions like TV shows and podcasts in exchange for brand promotions.

Tax Treatment for Businesses

When a business makes a sponsorship payment, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) considers it a business expense rather than a gift. As such, corporations may deduct reasonable sponsorship fees from their income as allowable business expenses under Section 18 of the Income Tax Act.

To be deductible, sponsorship fees must meet certain conditions:

  • It must be an expense of an income nature, not capital.
  • The amount must be reasonable.
  • It must be for the purpose of gaining or producing income.
  • It cannot be a personal expense.

If these tests are met, a business can deduct up to 100% of the eligible amount of sponsorship fees. The deduction is not limited to the 3.5% net income cap for charitable donations.

However, the sponsored organization cannot issue a charitable tax receipt for sponsorship payments []. From the charity’s perspective, sponsorships are considered a reciprocal transaction rather than a gift.

Tax Credits for Individuals

For individual sponsors, the tax treatment depends on whether the payment is structured as a pure donation or a sponsorship fee.

If structured as a donation, the sponsor is eligible to claim a charitable tax credit on their personal tax return. The charity can issue a tax receipt for donations over $20.

However, the donation tax credit only offsets tax otherwise payable; it does not generate a refund for taxpayers with income below the basic personal amount.

On the other hand, sponsorship payments do not qualify for personal tax credits. Individual sponsors cannot claim tax relief for their sponsorship expenses.

Changes in 2024

The key tax change impacting sponsorships in 2024 is an increase in the alternative minimum tax (AMT) rate from 15% to 20.5%.

The AMT aims to ensure high-income earners pay at least a minimum amount of tax. Charitable donations receive preferential tax treatment under the regular system but not under the AMT.

As such, the increased 20.5% AMT rate will reduce the tax incentive for high-income individuals to make large charitable donations. This could discourage major personal and corporate sponsorships and negatively impact fundraising.

Sponsorship vs. Charitable Donations

Given the tax implications, it’s important for businesses and individuals to understand the distinction between a sponsorship fee and a charitable donation.

The Canada Revenue Agency considers a sponsorship a business expense, while a donation is a gift. Some key differences:

  • Sponsorships are reciprocal transactions with promotional benefits provided to the sponsor in return. The sponsor receives advertising or other advantages in exchange for funding.
  • Charitable donations are unilateral gifts made voluntarily without expectation of return. No advantages or promotions are provided back to the donor.
  • Sponsorships are deductible business expenses for corporations. Donations qualify for individual and corporate tax credits.
  • Charities can issue tax receipts for donations but not for sponsorship payments.

Conclusion

In summary, corporate sponsorships are fully tax deductible as business expenses if structured properly. However, individuals cannot claim tax credits or deductions for their personal sponsorship expenses.

The increased 20.5% alternative minimum tax rate taking effect in 2024 will reduce the tax incentives for major donations and sponsorships. This could negatively impact charitable fundraising in Canada going forward.

Written By:
Salman Rundhawa
Salman Rundhawa is the founder of Filing Taxes. Salman provides valuable tax planning, accounting, and income tax preparation services in Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, and Hamilton.

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