Plan ahead – cut out the tax man

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How Canadians can strategically reduce current and estate taxes.

Abraham Lincoln once said “give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” The importance of careful planning is as relevant for chopping down trees as it is for protecting them.

Photo by Karol Dabbs

At the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)
we “sharpen our axes” through the application of the best available conservation science to identify at-risk ecosystems. As the country’s largest national land conservation organization we work to develop long-term action plans to acquire, protect and take care of important natural habitat. Since 1962, we have helped to secure more than 2.7 million acres (1.1 million hectares) across the country.

Planning is as important for NCC to achieve the best conservation results as it is for NCC’s donors to reach their financial, tax and philanthropic goals.

Our team at NCC offers information, shares knowledge and provides resources that allow our donors to reduce taxes, maximise the transfer of wealth to the next generation and leave a meaningful legacy that reflects their passions and values.

What are the top strategies you can use to obtain the same results?

You can leave a gift in your will to a charity.

Most of our donors have chosen to leave a monetary amount in their will or leave a percentage of the residual to NCC. This plan ensures a receipt for income tax purposes that can be used to reduce the tax bill at time of death and the year prior.

These individuals have not disinherited their loved ones; quite the opposite: they have talked to them, consulted with their advisors and contacted us to make sure that their loved ones are not being left with a major tax bill.

You can consider a gift of Registered Retirement Saving Plan or Registered Retirement Investment Fund (RRSP/RRIF)

Photo by Cherie Westmoreland

Another simple way NCC donors invest in conservation while reducing their taxes on their estate is by naming NCC as beneficiary of their RRSP or RRIF.

Keith Thomson of Stonegate Private Counsel says “with effective planning, most assets can be used to make a difference. It is important to understand that, eventually, your RRSP or RRIF will probably be your most highly taxed asset. These same registered assets can be extremely effective charitable giving vehicles. For example, the following strategy is easy, involves no administrative cost, does not require changing your will and can be achieved in three easy steps:

1. Request an RRSP/RRIF multiple beneficiary designation form from your plan administrator.

2. Complete the form naming your charity or charities of choice as one or more of the beneficiaries.

3. Return the form to your plan administrator.”

You can plan a Gift of Life Insurance

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The third philanthropic vehicle NCC donors are increasingly choosing are gifts of life insurance. This is because insurance is a valuable tool for wealth management and estate planning. To learn more about this method of charitable giving, visit

There are many more giving strategies that Canadians can implement thanks to over 20 tax laws that allow you to transfer a portion of your taxes to the charities you support.

Start sharpening your axe today by attending one of the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s estate planning seminars, led by financial experts and taking place across Canada. Register at or call at 1 (800) 465-0029 extension 5.