This is the time of year when temperatures drop, but hearts seem to get warmer. It’s a time when thoughts turn to dinners, decorating and festivities with family and friends. It’s also a time when our thoughts turn to sharing with others less fortunate.

Generally, this isn’t the time when our thoughts turn to taxes – unless, of course, you’re me!

Then again, I have something important to share that can be applied to your 2013 income tax return. It’s a little known tax break that adds 25% to the rates calculated in the Charitable Donation Tax Credit (CDTC) for up to $1,000 of monetary donations.

That’s a 40% federal credit for donations of $200 or less, and a whopping 54% federal credit for the portion of donations over $200 but not exceeding $1,000.

It’s called the First-Time Donor’s Super Credit (FDSC), but the good news is that you don’t have to be a first time donor to qualify. As long as neither you nor your spouse, or common-law partner, have claimed the credit since 2007, you’re eligible. The same holds true if you made a donation, but didn’t claim it.

This gift from the government is a great incentive, but it does come with a bit of red tape, or red ribbon (let’s keep it festive!):

Gift box

Donations must be cash only. The credit can be shared between spouses and common-law partners, but their total claim can’t exceed $1,000, even though single Canadians can each claim up to $1,000. Only donations made in the same year of claim can qualify.

With the year’s end fast approaching, I suggest you donate to your heart’s content as soon as possible. After all, you’ll be rewarded on so many levels.

For information, feel free to visit the Canadian Revenue Agency.