Tax Credit for SAR Volunteers

Tax Credit for SAR Volunteers
Travel on lightly snow-covered rocks

Today, the federal government of Canada introduced a tax credit for SAR volunteers. The relevant text from the budget is included in it’s entirety below (pages 229-230). Not included are details in Annex 2 (pages 321 and 322) which I will comment on below.

The following text is included under Canada’s Fair Use laws.

Introducing the Search and Rescue Volunteers Tax Credit
Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes a new Search and Rescue Volunteers Tax Credit to recognize the important role played by ground, air and marine search and rescue volunteers.

Economic Action Plan 2011 introduced the Volunteer Firefighters Tax Credit in recognition of the important role played by volunteer firefighters in contributing to the security and safety of Canadians. Other quiet heroes across Canada put themselves at risk in service of their communities by volunteering for ground, air and marine search and rescue groups, in support of the Canadian Coast Guard, police and other agencies. They are an integral part of the emergency response system, and provide a source of
well-organized, well-trained and well-equipped volunteers in the event of a natural disaster or large-scale emergency.

These include volunteers such as Tim Jones of British Columbia, who
died on January 19, 2014 after a 26-year career with the North Shore
Rescue Team.

Economic Action Plan 2014 announces a 15-per-cent non-refundable Search and Rescue Volunteers Tax Credit on an amount of $3,000 for ground, air and marine search and rescue volunteers. This credit will be available to search and rescue volunteers who perform at least 200 hours of service
during a year. Individuals who perform at least 200 hours of combined eligible search and rescue services and volunteer firefighting services in a given year will be able to choose between the Volunteer Firefighters Tax Credit and the new tax credit.

Eligible search and rescue volunteers who currently receive honoraria in respect of their duties as emergency service volunteers will also be able to choose between the new tax credit and the existing tax exemption of up to $1,000 for honoraria.

This measure will apply for the 2014 and subsequent taxation years. It is estimated to reduce federal revenues by $1 million in 2013–14 and by $4 million in each of 2014–15 and 2015–16.

Remembering Tim Jones
Tim Jones, who passed away suddenly on January 19, 2014, exemplified the dedication and commitment required of search and rescue volunteers across Canada.

As team leader for the North Shore Rescue Team, Tim Jones oversaw the busiest search and rescue team in Canada and was a recognized search and rescue leader in North America. The team itself is credited with finding thousands of individuals and saving many lives since its inception in 1965.
Tim Jones began volunteering in 1987 and, over his career as a volunteer, participated in over 1,800 search and rescue operations. Countless individuals in British Columbia and across the country are grateful for the courageous service provided by Tim Jones and other search and rescue volunteers.

This is a really nice gesture on the part of the government, and something that the BC Search and Rescue Association, The SAR Volunteer Association of Canada, and several MPs have been pushing for for many years.

Now let’s the the BC Government introduce a similar credit.

Which hours are eligible?

According to Annex 2:

…responding to and being on call for search and rescue and related emergencies, attending meetings held by the search and rescue organization and participating in required training related to search and rescue.

Which organizations are eligible?

According to Annex 2:

Eligible search and rescue organizations will include search and rescue organizations that are members of the Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada, of the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, and of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary. Other organizations whose status as a search and rescue organization is recognized by a provincial, municipal or public authority will also qualify

How to document?

It may require a letter from the president of your SAR group.

When does it go into effect?

It applies to the 2014 tax year. I assume you should be tracking volunteer hours as of January 1st this year. Get to it!

Message from SARVAC

Download (PDF, 118KB)


See my post about incentives versus recognition for context on the tax break.

2 Comments on “Tax Credit for SAR Volunteers

  1. Mike,
    How would you interpret “being on call” You could argue that as we are on call 24/7 the 200 hours would be automatic.

  2. I was having that exact conversation last night with a highly placed SAR member.

    I was discussion how we would have to document or log our time more carefully, and his opinion was that “on call” would mean the approximately 24/7 “on call” status for ground SAR volunteers.

    This would mean that resource members who are not on call would have to document their time.

    RCM-SAR members work more like volunteer fire fighters in crew rotations, and are on and off duty, but would also be able to make the minimum 200 hours quite easily.

    This is backed up by Annex 2 which states that all the documentation required would be a letter from the team president.

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