Budget 2014 - Search and Rescue Volunteer Tax Credit

Notice to the reader

This measure has received Royal Assent.

For 2014 and subsequent years, the budget proposes to introduce a non-refundable tax credit for qualifying search and rescue volunteers.

What is the new Search and Rescue Volunteer Tax Credit (SRVTC)?

For 2014 and subsequent years, the budget proposes a new non-refundable tax credit, based on an amount of $3,000, for certain search and rescue volunteers. The SRVTC will be calculated by multiplying the lowest personal income tax rate for the year by $3,000. For 2014, the credit will be $450 (15% x $3,000).

I am a search and rescue volunteer. Do I qualify for the SRVTC?

A search and rescue volunteer must perform at least 200 hours of eligible services in the year, each of which is an hour of:

The hours volunteered for both search and rescue and firefighter activities can be combined. However, you can only claim one credit for the year, either the Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit (VFTC) or the SRVTC.

However, if you were also engaged by the same organization (other than as a volunteer) for the same or similar duties, you cannot include any hours related to that organization in determining if you have met the 200-hour threshold.

What are eligible search and rescue volunteer services?

Eligible search and rescue volunteer services include the services you provided as a search and rescue volunteer to an eligible search and rescue organization (other than eligible volunteer firefighting services), which must consist primarily of the following (primary services):

  • responding to and being on call for search and rescue and related emergency calls as a search and rescue volunteer;
  • attending meetings held by the search and rescue organization; and
  • participating in required training related to search and rescue services.

Other services you provided as a search and rescue volunteer to an eligible search and rescue organization are also eligible, such as, the delivery of educational sessions undertaken by the organization.

For the purpose of counting the number of hours of eligible search and rescue volunteer services, the number of hours devoted to the primary services described above must exceed the number of hours devoted to other services for a particular organization.

How are my hours of eligible search and rescue volunteer services determined for my on call duty?

In general, you should rely on the search and rescue organization to determine the number of hours of eligible search and rescue volunteer services that you have completed in the year. The applicable policies and procedures of the organization would be applied in determining the number of hours that you were on call for search and rescue and related emergency calls.

What are the eligible search and rescue organizations?

An eligible organization is a search and rescue organization that is a member of the Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada, the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, or the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary or whose status as a search and rescue organization is recognized by a provincial, municipal or public authority.

Will the CRA verify the number of volunteer hours that I have performed?

If you have claimed the SRVTC or the VFTC, you may be requested by the CRA to provide a written certificate from:

  • the team president or other individual who fills a similar role of each eligible search and rescue organization, attesting to the number of hours of eligible search and rescue volunteer services performed by the individual for the particular organization in the year; and
  • the fire chief or a delegated official of each fire department, attesting to the number of hours of eligible volunteer firefighting services performed by the individual for the particular fire department in the year.
I am currently a search and rescue volunteer. Do my hours of service completed since January 1, 2014 count towards the 200-hour threshold?

Yes.

I received a payment for my duties as a search and rescue volunteer. Do I still get the SRVTC?

As a search and rescue volunteer, you may be eligible for an income exemption of up to $1,000 if you received a payment from a government, municipality, or other public authority for carrying out emergency services. If you choose to claim this exemption, you will not be eligible for the new SRVTC or the VFTC.

I am eligible for a $1,000 exemption related to the payment I received for carrying out search and rescue volunteer duties. Is this exempt income reported on my T4 information slip?

For 2014 and subsequent years, the income exemption related to all emergency services will be identified on your T4 information slip.

How will I claim the SRVTC?

Beginning with the 2014 personal income tax and benefit return, a new line will be incorporated into the Schedule 1, Federal Tax to allow you to claim the credit.

Where can I get more information about this new tax credit?

The CRA is committed to providing taxpayers with up-to-date information. The CRA encourages taxpayers to check its Web pages often. All new forms, policies, and guidelines will be posted as they become available.

In the meantime, please consult the Department of Finance Canada's Budget 2014 documents for details.

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