Blog

August 19, 2014

Globe and Mail “Canada Revenue Agency delists foreign charities”

Jeff Gray recently wrote a piece in the Globe and Mail on a quirky category of foreign charities who are given qualified donee status by virtue of being on the "List of registered foreign charitable organizations that have received a gift from Her Majesty in right of Canada".  I have been getting calls from Canadian charities that conduct foreign activities and professional advisors wondering whether this has any impact on them.   The short answer is no.  

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August 19, 2014

Industry Canada sending out more warnings to Federal non-profits that have not continued

Industry Canada has been warning Federal non-profits that are under the old Canada Corporations Act to continue.  They are sending out with Annual Returns under the old act warnings to non-profits to continue or face dissolution.  

August 18, 2014

The CNCA and its impact on Canadian registered charities

As I have noted before I am concerned that many thousands of Federal non-profit corporations have not continued to the new CNCA and at some point after October 17, 2014 they will be dissolved by Industry Canada.  That is a particular problem for registered charities in that CRA will eventually revoke the registered charities status of those charities.  CRA has indicated to me that in September 2014 they will be sending a mailing to all registered charities and Registered Canadian Amateur Athletic Associations (RCAAAs) that are under the Canada Corporations Act reminding them of the need to continue to the CNCA.  My guess is that the information that CRA has for registered charities, including addresses, is far more up to date than the information that Industry Canada has on file.    I had previously guessed that there are approximately 5000 registered charities that could lose their charitable status, well apparently the number as of July is closer to 5400! 

I had requested from CRA an update as to the CNCA process.  Here is the note that I received from them. 

“Please note that the figures provided are approximate. As of July 2014, there have been 2,100 out of 7,500 registered charities and RCAAAs under CCA II that have either completed the transition or have submitted documentation indicating that they are in the process of continuance to the CNCA.

The CRA has taken multiple steps to assist with this transition, including:

•             engaging Industry Canada (IC) in ongoing discussions – information directed to charities has been included in a transition notice mailed by IC to all CCA II corporations this past Spring;

•             developing a series of webpages – Transition to the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (NFP Act) – which have been available since October 2011;

•             distributing periodic notices via the Charities and giving webpage – What’s new and the electronic mailing list; and

•             publishing an article in issue 9  of the Charities Connection Newsletter.

In September, the CRA will be mailing a reminder letter to registered charities and RCAAAs incorporated under the CCA II  in another effort to provide further direction on how to apply for continuance and the information that is needed to complete the transition process.”  

For more information on the CNCA and the continance process see:   

http://www.globalphilanthropy.ca/blog/category/new_canada_not-for-profit_corporations_act_federal_corporations

August 12, 2014

B.C. Ministry of Finance seeking feedback on proposed modernization of the Society Act

The B.C. Ministry of Finance has released a White Paper which sets out policy recommendations and proposed draft legislation for a new and more modern "Society Act" in British Columbia, which governs not-for-profit organizations in B.C. The consultation process to amend the current legislation began in 2009. There are approximately 27,000 societies in B.C. that are currently governed by the Society Act. The Ministry is seeking feedback on the White Paper and the deadline to provide comments is October 15, 2014. You can visit the Ministry's web site for more information on the White Paper at http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/pld/fcsp/society_act_discussion.htm

August 10, 2014

CRA numbers comparing assets and revenues for 2011 to 2012 for the Charity Sector in Canada


I recently received from the Charities Directorate of CRA some charts showing the combined assets and revenues of the Canadian registered charity sector for 2011 and 2012.   A few quick comments:

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August 09, 2014

My article “Selecting Great Charities – only tough if your eyes are open”

Here is a link to an article I wrote entitled "Selecting Great Charities – only tough if your eyes are open" which recently appeared on the CanadaHelps website.  

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August 09, 2014

Mark Blumberg’s submission to the Finance Committee for 2015 pre-budget consultations

Here is a copy of our submission to the Finance Committee for the 2015 pre-budget consultations.   In the pre-budget submission we discuss having greater transparency with both non-profit organizations and registered charities and also the issue of charities and political activities.  

August 07, 2014

Revocation letters by CRA for charities and political activities - over the last 20 years.

Over the last 20 years CRA has revoked a number of charities for ostensibly being involved in partisan political activities, or exceeding the 10% of resources on political activities, or for having an unstated political purpose.  In light of all the interest in charities and political activities we thought that it would be a good idea to provide a list of CRA letters that I am aware of relating to those revocations.  For those who are interested in the issue of charities and political activities these are important documents.   

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August 06, 2014

CRA letter on the application of GST/HST to membership dues

CRA has released a letter which discusses whether GST/HST applies to membership dues. This particular letter involved a non-profit corporation seeking a GST/HST exemption for dues paid by its members. Based on the information provided by the non-profit corporation, CRA concluded that members were receiving a direct benefit as a result of their membership and therefore did not meet the GST/HST exemption criteria set out in section 17 of Part VI of Schedule V.

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August 06, 2014

Latest Update on CNCA continuances from Industry Canada

I recently contacted Industry Canada and they advised that as of July 26, 2014 there have been 5,386 continuances to the new CNCA.   As there are ostensibly 19,000 Federal corporations that are/were under the old Canada Corporations Act there appear to be a large number of organizations that still need to continue.  For those who have not continued you may find this short webinar helpful.  

August 06, 2014

Charity Commission forces “environmental” charity to set up campaigning arm

Here is an interesting article that appeared in the http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/ website.  It discusses a “climate change-sceptic charity” that is being forced to stop certain “educational” activities and to set up an affiliated but separate entity to propagate material that "lacked balance and promoted a particular line of opinion designed to elicit debate.”  Please note the similarity to Canada in that if a charity wants to engage in more than the allowable amount of political activities or wants to spread information that let us just say falls below the level of education as understood in the charitable sense, then they can set up a non-profit that is not a registered charity.  

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July 26, 2014

Focus by media on CRA political activity audits - some preliminary thoughts

In the last week there has been a large number of articles in the Canadian media on Canadian charities and political activities.  I would make a few preliminary points that sometimes get lost in the coverage.  

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July 25, 2014

How much is CRA planning on spending to deal with the issue of charities and political activities?

In the 2012 Federal Budget the Conservative government announced that it was allocating $8 million for various initiatives related to charities and political activities.   More recently papers have been describing a $13 million budget.   I wondered about the difference and wrote to CRA  to request a clarification.  Here is what I heard back from CRA.

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July 13, 2014

CRA revokes Jesus of Bethlehem Worship Centre as a charity - cites ineligible individuals

Finally.  It took more than 3 years but CRA has identified that it has revoked a charity for in part having "ineligible individuals" controlling the organization.  I was sure that I was going to die of old age before that ever happened!  Amongst a number of grounds CRA notes "The audit also revealed that the board of directors of the Organization includes “ineligible individuals” as defined in the Act. In particular, two directors of the Organization were directors of The Heaven’s Gate Healing Ministry at a time when it engaged in conduct which constituted a serious breach of the requirements for registration under the Act, for which its registration was revoked in 2009."

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July 11, 2014

Cathy Hawara’s speech on constitutional framework, political activities, compliance and IT

In May, Cathy Hawara, the Director General of the Charities Directorate delivered a speech which touches on a number of important issues such as the constitutional framework for charities, political activities by registered charities, independence of the regulator, compliance approach and IT modernization. It is well worth reading.  

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July 10, 2014

Canadian Charity Law Association webinars

The Canadian Charity Law Association is presenting some webinars.  For more information see: www.charitylawassociation.ca or https://www.facebook.com/CanadianCharityLawAssociation

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July 06, 2014

Number of continuances from the Canada Corporations Act to the CNCA

In October 2013 there were only 1800 continuances according to Industry Canada from the old CCA to the new CNCA.  That number has now jumped to  4175 corporations by May 31, 2014 and is probably higher over the last 5 weeks.   That being said there are about 19,000 Federal corporations and many clearly need to continue or face dissolution after October 17, 2014.  For registered charities dissolution will also eventually result in loss of registered charity status.   

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July 05, 2014

CRTC adds to CASL FAQ discussion of meaning of “primary purpose” to raise funds for reg. charities

The CRTC recently updated their FAQs to include a discussion of an exemption related to Canadian registered charities.   If a commercial electronic message (CEM) sent by a Canadian registered charity has the "primary purpose" of raising funds for the charity then that message will be exempt.  The CRTC definition of "primary purpose" is consistent with the ordinary meaning of "primary purpose" and not some other meanings that have been suggested by some.   The CRTC notes in their FAQ "The “primary purpose” of a CEM means the main reason or main purpose of the CEM. There could be a secondary or additional purpose to the message, but the principal purpose of the CEM must be to raise funds for the charity."  Some of the brief examples provided by the CRTC are not that clear.   

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July 01, 2014

Blumbergs’ Snapshot of the Canadian Charity Sector 2012

We have just released the Blumbergs’ Snapshot of the Canadian Charity Sector 2012.  The Canadian charity sector has grown again.   The Canadian charity sector is a vital part of Canadian society and economy with revenue of over $223 billion and expenditures of about $218 billion.

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June 27, 2014

CRTC releases “Guidelines to help businesses develop corporate compliance programs” for CASL

CRTC has recently released its "Guidelines to help businesses develop corporate compliance programs".  The CRTC is quite tentative in their Guidelines.   This we know.  The Guidelines are not legal advice, they are guidance and they "may" help facilitate legal compliance.  Each organization is different.  It is general guidance, not prescriptive and it is not exhaustive.  Reading all the caveats is exhausting.   The Guidelines provide some good 'motherhood and apple pie' type advice dealing with compliance issues such as CASL.  Although not geared for charities and non-profit much of the guidelines is equally helpful to charities and non-profits.  

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June 27, 2014

CRA letter on taxable benefits to employees and opting to forego a non-cash gift

CRA recently released a letter which discusses whether an employee will realize a taxable benefit if the employee opts to forego a non-cash gift valued over $500 that he or she is otherwise entitled to and directs the employer to make a cash gift of a specified amount to a specified registered charity.

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June 27, 2014

CRA Letter on donations of fossils

CRA recently released a letter which discusses whether the transfer of the custody of a fossil to a qualified donee can be considered a charitable gift. CRA concluded that this would be a question of both fact and law but there would need to be a transfer of property present.

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June 27, 2014

CRA letter on donations of ecogifts

CRA recently released a letter which discusses whether the donation of a conservation easement by a landowner would be considered a gift for tax purposes. 

CRA provided general comments on ecological gifts. 

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June 26, 2014

Now Magazine “Men’s rights group used feminists’ names on charity application”

I never thought I would live to see the day.   Yes a popular magazine has a story that revolves around the T2050 - Application to Register a Charity Under the Income Tax Act.   Now Magazine has an article entitled "Men’s rights group used feminists’ names on charity application" in which it alleges that a registered charity may have put in a deceptive charity application to the Charities Directorate.  

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June 21, 2014

Understanding remittances from Canada - the US$24 billion question

Remittances from Canada are important.   Remittances are defined by Wikipedia as "A remittance is a transfer of money by a foreign worker to an individual in his or her home country."   Some of those countries are developing world countries and these remittances are important in helping families and friends with the cost of living, education etc.   

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Topics: News | Global Giving

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Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.

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