Tax Tips for Our Volunteers
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Tax Tips for Our Volunteers

The start of the new year means tax time is not far behind. Here are some guidelines for our volunteer firefighters.

Volunteer firefighters’ amount and Line 395 – Search and rescue volunteers’ amount

You can claim $3,000 for the volunteer firefighters’ amount (VFA) or the search and rescue volunteers’ amount (SRVA), but not both, if you meet the following conditions:

·        you were a volunteer firefighter or a search and rescue volunteer during the year; and

·        you completed at least 200 hours of eligible volunteer firefighting services or eligible search and rescue volunteer services in the year.

The hours volunteered for both search and rescue and firefighter activities can be combined to claim either the VFA or the SRVA. You cannot claim both.

However, if you provided services to 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.

Eligible services

Eligible volunteer firefighting services with a fire department include

·        responding to and being on call for firefighting and related emergency calls as a firefighter,

·        attending meetings held by the fire department, and

·        participating in required training.

Eligible search and rescue volunteer services with an eligible search and rescue organization include

·        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 organization and

·        Participating in required training.

To be eligible, a search and rescue organization must be 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 have its status as a search and rescue organization recognized by a provincial, municipal, or public authority. Your search and rescue organization can tell you if it is eligible.

Emergency services volunteers (Line 101)

In 2017, you may have received a payment from an eligible employer (such as a government, a municipality, or another public authority) for your work as a volunteer ambulance technician, firefighter, search and rescue volunteer, or other type of emergency worker.

The T4 slips issued by this authority will generally show only the taxable part of the payment, which is the part that is more than $1,000. If you provided volunteer emergency services for more than one employer, you can claim the $1,000 exemption for each of your eligible employers.

The exempt part of a payment is shown in Box 87 of your T4 slips.

As an emergency services volunteer, you may qualify for the volunteer firefighters’ amount (VFA) or the search and rescue volunteers’ amount (SRVA). (See lines 362 and 395.)

If you are eligible for the $1,000 exemption and either the VFA or the SRVA, you must choose which one you would like to claim.

If you choose to claim the exemption, report only the amounts shown in Box 14 of your T4 slips on line 101.

If the authority employed you (other than as a volunteer) for the same or similar duties or if you choose to claim the VFA or the SRVA, the full payment is taxable. You must add the amounts shown in Boxes 87 and 14 of your T4 slips and report the result on line 101.

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