R14. Can our charity issue computer-generated receipts?

R14. Can our charity issue computer-generated receipts?

Short answer

Yes, your charity can issue electronic official donation receipts as long as they contain all of the required elements (see FAQ R12), are readable, and the data is sufficiently protected from unauthorized access. If your charity fails to adequately safeguard and maintain records in a readable and reliable manner, you could be considered to have failed to meet the legal requirement to keep adequate books and records.

Long answer

To protect computer-generated receipts from unauthorized access, registered charities should ensure that:

  • the computer system used to store the receipts is password-protected and restricts entry to and modification of donor contribution records;
  • donor records are stored on non-erasable media, such as CD-ROMs or printouts,
  • hard copies of issued receipts can be printed on request;

A computer-stored copy of an official donation receipt, known as a “soft copy,” will be considered a duplicate for purposes of the Income Tax Act if the following conditions are met:

  • it contains all the necessary information required on the contents of receipts as described above;
  • a charity can, at any time, print a copy of the receipt without inputting any new data required on receipts;

To be considered a duplicate, the computer-stored copy does not have to carry an electronic signature.