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I am a US citizen and I have the option to make my charitable donations in either the US or Canada for the next few years. How do I maximize my tax benefit for a fixed donation size?

My understanding: the US offers a tax deduction, reducing taxable income by the amount donated, and necessitating itemization. Canada offers a tax credit for a percentage of the donation, and so one may still take the standard deduction. This percentage is determined by the marginal income tax rate (combined provincial and federal), which tends to be higher in Canada than the US. Also, except for the first $200 donated, the Canadian federal part of the tax credit assumes you're in the highest income tax bracket. All of these considerations suggests that a Canadian donation maximizes the benefit.

Any other major considerations I may be missing?

(Minor notes: The money will still go to the same charity, the question is just whether I should donate to the US-registered arm or the Canadian-registered arm. Because I will be working in both the US and Canada, I can take advantage of tax benefits in either of the countries. I am in Ontario.)

(Note also that it appears that only excess contributions, over the 50% income maximum, may be carried over.)

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    Are you a US citizen? Please add this information by editing your answer, not by replying to this comment. Also, please read the "carried over" rule for charitable deductions carefully. As I understand it, it is only the excess donations for a year that can be carried over. There are also special rules for donations to Canadian organizations. For a brief summary, see here. – Dilip Sarwate Feb 11 '15 at 13:52
  • Thanks, edited. I am donating to an international charity that can receive in the US or Canada easily, but your note about deductibility for some Canadian charities could be very useful for other. I can't find anything 100% definitive, but you appear to be correct about only excess donations being carried over. irs.gov/publications/p526/… – Jess Riedel Feb 11 '15 at 14:04
  • Are you living/working in Canada such that you owe canadian taxes as well? – Yosef Weiner Feb 11 '15 at 14:52
  • Skinny: Yes, I will owe significant Canadian taxes. – Jess Riedel Feb 11 '15 at 14:55
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    Apparently, you can use donations to a US charity on your Canadian tax form, but it can only be used to reduce your US income. This precludes getting a tax break from donating to a US charity during years when you don't have US income. More here: icnl.org/research/journal/vol3iss3/ig_2.htm – Jess Riedel Feb 12 '15 at 19:08

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