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Charitable Donations - Tax Receipt and Fair Market Value

Charitable Donations - Tax Receipt and Fair Market Value

Charitable Donations - Tax Receipt and Fair Market Value
26 Jan 2016
Written by: Navroz Janmohamed

Written by: Navroz Janmohamed, CPA, CA

Before a charitable donation receipt can be provided, a charity must first determine if the donation is a gift. A gift is a donation that is given freely, and not as a result of an obligation. In addition, the gift has to be a transfer of property, i.e., a gift of service is not eligible for a donation receipt. 

When a donor receives an advantage or consideration for a donation, the full donation may no longer qualify. An example of an advantage would be if a donor received dinner or a ticket to an event in return for a donation.

How to Determine Fair Market Value

To determine the eligible amount of a gift for tax purposes, a charity must know the fair market value of the donation, as well as the fair market value of the advantage provided to the donor, if any. If a charity is unable to determine the fair market value of either the gift or advantage, a tax donation receipt cannot be issued. 

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) indicates that fair market value, "is usually the highest dollar value you can get for your property in an open and unrestricted market and between a willing buyer and a willing seller who are knowledgeable, informed, and acting independently of each other."

For gifts of $1,000 or less, someone within the charity with knowledge of the gift may determine the value of donated goods for tax purposes. However, if the gift is to be appraised at an amount higher than $1,000, then it is strongly recommended by CRA that an independent, professional appraiser prepare a donation appraisal report to determine the value of the gift. The donation receipt should also show the name of the appraiser who established the value. 

A record of how the fair market value was determined should be maintained by the charity. A charity cannot issue an official donation receipt in the name of anyone but the true donor. The name and address of the donor must appear on the tax donation receipt, in addition to several other key pieces of information.

If you are uncertain how charitable donation receipt requirements affect you, contact a member of Manning Elliott's tax team as they would be happy to assist you in navigating these complex tax issues. 

Navroz Janmohamed, CPA, CA is a Partner at Manning Elliott LLP. He advises privately held businesses, not-for-profit organizations (NPOs) and registered charities on a wide range of income tax planning and tax compliance matters. To contact Navroz, feel free to call him at 604-714-3622 or email him at 

The above content is believed to be accurate as of the date of posting. Tax laws are complex and are subject to frequent changes. Professional advice should be sought before implementing any tax planning. Manning Elliott LLP cannot accept any liability for the tax consequences that may result from acting based on the information contained therein.


Good evening,

I am President of a newly registered charity in Canada. What documents do we need from appraisers - assuming the FMV is over $1,000.00 to assure us that the amount is exactly as stated on the appraisal report given to the donor? I believe that CAPAP does not allow the report to be shared with anyone but the intended user.



Hey Ted,

Thank you for the comment!

An expert appraiser would provide sufficient information to support the conclusion, which would include an appraiser or valuator report.

Kindest regards,


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