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Angela Self on spending

Charity and tax time: It really is better to give Add to ...

When it comes to giving money to charity, every little bit adds up to make a big difference. The same is true for your charitable receipts at tax time. Here's how: On the first $200 you claim, you earn a 15-per-cent tax credit. On amounts more than $200, you earn a 29-per-cent credit.

Considering you can claim up to five years worth of charitable receipts at once, it may make sense to claim them all at a later date. Let's say your spending plan allocates $200 a year for donations. If you claim $200 in 2009 and in 2010, you would generate a tax credit of $30 for each year. If you were to lump the receipts together in 2010, you'd generate a $30 credit on the first $200 and $58 on the second, for a total credit of $88.

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In order to claim donations, they must be to a registered charity recognized by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). You can confirm registration of your charities of choice by searching the CRA charities listings online. If you're searching for a new cause to get behind this year, check out canadahelps.org, which lets you search for causes based on areas of interest.

Consider getting the little ones in your life involved as well. If they set aside money in jars for short-term and long-term savings, consider adding a donation jar to the mix. And don't worry about filling that one to the brim. Donating just $10 to Habitat for Humanity, for example, will buy a box of nails that volunteers could use toward building a home for a deserving family.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at globeinvestor.com.

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