Clergy Residence Deduction – CRA Revises Form T1223

January 31, 2013 | Amanda J. Stacey

The
Canada Revenue Agency has released a revised T1223 form applicable for clergy
residence deduction claims for the 2012 taxation year.  In particular, the CRA has added requirements
to Part B of the form, which is the employer certification portion of the form.

With
respect to employees who are members of the clergy, the CRA states that
employers must now provide employees with a copy of their ordination
certificate.  It is our view that this
requirement has no basis in law.  While
an employee claiming the deduction would be required, on audit, to prove his or
her status as a member of the clergy, there is no Income Tax Act requirement to
produce an ordination certificate to substantiate a claim for the deduction.

With
respect to employees who are regular ministers of a religious denomination, the
CRA now requires a description of how the employee was appointed to his or her
role as a regular minister.  IT-141R
“Clergy Residence Deduction” states that to qualify as a regular
minister, among other things, the person must be appointed or recognized by a
body or person with the legitimate authority to appoint or ordain ministers on
behalf of or within the religious denomination. 
Employers should include a brief description of the appointment process
for their denomination here, including who within the denomination appointed the
employee, and the source of that person’s authority to make the appointment.

With
respect to employees appointed to administrative service by appointment of a
religious denomination or religious order, the CRA now requires that employers
describe how the individual was appointed to his or her position.  We should note that this portion of the form
is somewhat unclear.  On one
interpretation, a description of how an individual was appointed to
administrative service is only required where a separate organization (i.e. not
the individual’s employer) has appointed the individual in question.  However, it is also plausible that such a
description is required regardless of the appointing organization.  It is our view that a brief description will
suffice here, and should be included regardless of the appointing organization.

This is
the second year in a row that the CRA has amended its T1223 form to add further
informational requirements.  Readers may
recall that last year, for the 2011 taxation year, the CRA introduced a
requirement to attach job descriptions to the T1223, and the job descriptions
must show a percentage allocation of time spent on specific job duties.  It should be noted that the T1223 is not
required to be filed with an individual’s tax return.  It must, however, be kept by the individual
and produced if requested by the CRA.  We
have concerns that these yearly changes are indicative of a desire by the CRA
to restrict access to the deduction on grounds that are not necessarily in
keeping with the law.  Employers with
concerns regarding the completion of T1223 forms for their employees are
encouraged to seek advice and Miller Thomson Charity and Not-for-Profit lawyers
have the requisite expertise to assist with such questions.

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