TWU parents can’t write off tuition, court says

Trinity Western University - Undated Google Street View image
Trinity Western University
— image credit: Undated Google Street View image

Parents of students at Langley’s Trinity Western University (TWU) who tried to turn tuition fees into a write-off will have to pay taxes, a Federal Court of Appeal tribunal has ruled.

A three-judge panel upheld a Tax Court ruling that the parents cannot claim they made tax-deductible donations to charity when they were effectively paying tuition for their children.

The parents contributed money to the Christian Higher Education Assistance Fund operated by the National Foundation for Christian Leadership, a registered charity that provided scholarships and bursaries to students attending Christian universities like Trinity.

Instead of paying tuition, parents would donate money to the charity and get 80 to 100 per cent back in the form of a bursary or scholarship for their child.

Lawyers for the fund argued it was not a tax avoidance scheme because not every student got a full scholarship and not all donations came from parents.

The matter ended up in court after the Canada Revenue Agency refused to approve the donations-for-scholarships arrangement.

As much as $5 million in donations at several Christian universities is affected by the ruling.

TWU did not respond to a Times request for comment Thursday.


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