Blog

March 11, 2015

CRA letter on gifts made by will

CRA recently released a letter which discusses whether a gift by will of marketable securities provided to a Foundation would be deemed to have been made immediately before the death of the donor.  CRA concluded that the gift did constitute a gift by will made immediately before the death of the donor under subsection 118.1 (5) of the ITA.  The letter appears to have been written before the 2014 budget, which will have an impact on the bequests are dealt with in estates where the testator died on or after January 1, 2016.     

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March 09, 2015

CRA makes available a Political Activities PowerPoint Presentation for registered charities to use

As part of their educational mandate to encourage charities to be compliant with their legal requirements, including when conducting political activities, the Charities Directorate has released a "Political Activities PowerPoint Presentation" that registered charities can use internally to understand the limits of political activities.  There is both the presentation and the speakers notes.    

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March 05, 2015

CRTC Issues its First Fine under CASL and it does not relate to a non-profit or charity

The CRTC issued its first CASL violation to Compu-Finder for four alleged violations occurring between July 2, 2014 and September 16, 2014. A penalty of $1.1 million dollars was imposed by the CRTC and Compu-Finder will have 30 days to submit written representations to the CRTC or pay the penalty. The alleged violations relate to commercial electronic messages sent by Compu-Finder without a recipient’s consent and without properly functioning unsubscribe mechanisms. According to the Spam Reporting Centre, complaints against Compu-Finder accounted for 26% of all complaints submitted in its industry sector. 

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March 05, 2015

Finance report on tax expenditures and the charitable tax credit

The Department of Finance has released a somewhat in depth report as part its tax evaluation series on "Evaluation of the Federal Charitable Donation Tax Credit".  It is an interesting report.  If one is interested in tax incentives the reports of the PBO are also worth reading.   

March 04, 2015

Statistics about giving tell you so much and so little!

Here is an interesting quote from the CCVO newsletter.   "Albertans...more Scrooge than Saint? The recent stats on charitable donations from Statistics Canada placed Alberta close to the top with the second highest median donation. However Maclean's took it one step further and compared median donations as percentage of median total income. When you compare Alberta to other provinces this way we come in second last.  Albertans give a smaller amount as a % of our income."

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March 02, 2015

OHA “Strengthening Foundation Governance: Current Issues, Challenges and Solutions” 2015

I am pleased to be presenting to the Ontario Hospital Association's third annual Strengthening Foundation Governance Workshop on May 22, 2015.

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March 02, 2015

2015 Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise (CCSE) in London, Ontario

I am delighted to be co-presenting at the 2015 Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise (CCSE) on the topic "Structuring for Impact – Finding The Right Form For Your Social Enterprise".  The conference is from April 22-24.

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February 27, 2015

20 Ways We May Be Able To Help You With ONCA By Mark Blumberg

Here is my article 20 Ways We May Be Able To Help You With ONCA.  It sets out some of the items that our law firm can assist Ontario non-profit corporations with when preparing for ONCA.

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February 25, 2015

CRA releases CG-022 Housing and Charitable Registration Guidance

The CRA on February 6, 2015 released a new guidance entitled CG-022 Housing and Charitable Registration Guidance.  It covers a number of issues relating to housing including how housing can be used to relieve poverty and the provision of specially adapted housing for those with disabilities. It sets out a number of specific pieces of information that would need to be provided if an organization is applying for charity status to be able to show that the provision of housing is charitable.  Existing housing providers should also be able to show that information if they ever audited.  

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February 25, 2015

Arthur v. The Queen - another case in which the TCC rejects receipts and sides with CRA

In Arthur v. The Queen, 2015 TCC 43, Juliet Arthur was appealing a reassessment made by CRA relating to two receipts.   The case provides a good summary of the cases dealing with lack of appropriate documentation for donations - especially when they are either cash or gifts in kind. The TCC dismissed the appeal with "Considering the evidence as a whole, I conclude that the appellant has not shown on a balance of probabilities that she made a charitable donation in the total amount of $3,529 to Emilia in 2006, even though a receipt was provided which purported to show that she had done so."

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February 25, 2015

Industry to provide notices of pending dissolution to all Federal CCA non-profits by September

As we have reported before Industry Canada has sent out over 16,000 notices of pending dissolution to about 6000 CCA corporations.  Typically Industry Canada sends such notice to the registered office and each director.  However, if Industry Canada knows that the address is not correct they will not send out a notice to that address.  Industry Canada was holding back sending notices to groups that have recently filed or are registered charities. However, in order to tie off the CCA, Industry Canada has to have removed all CCA corporations. Industry Canada a few weeks ago confirmed that its goal is to provide by September 2015 notices to all other remaining CCA corporations including registered charities.

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February 24, 2015

The easy and quick solution to ONCA for Ontario Non-Profit Corporations

We are now in February of 2015.  ONCA has not moved forward since the Ontario election last year.   It looks like ONCA may not even come into force until mid-2016 and perhaps 2017.  It is difficult to know what will happen but the microfiche based record system for Ontario corporations and very outdated technology that Ontario currently uses will likely make the transition challenging. There are 59,000 Ontario non-profit corporation listed on the Ontario government database.   If even 30,000 are active and need to make changes I am not confident that the Ontario system is going to work well.  The easy and quick solution for many Ontario corporations that are not interested in waiting any longer is to move to the Federal CNCA. Skip the line up and anxiety of ONCA and move to the CNCA.   Here is an article our firm wrote on the subject entitled "Ontario Corporations Don't Need to Wait for the ONCA - Continuing from the OCA to Federal Jurisdiction" for the Ontario Bar Association.   

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February 24, 2015

“Australian ‘Charity’ Fined Record $1.5 Million” for Canadian “fake philanthropic scheme”

The Australian website Pro Bono Australia has published an article on an Australian Federal Court decision to impose a $1.5 million fine on a "fake philanthropic scheme was modelled on an arrangement which previously failed in Canada, and involved the purchase and donation of AIDS pharmaceutics to charities in Africa." It is interesting that as we are considering in Canada the constitutionality of civil penalties, that the Australians are imposing such civil penalties on Canadians for schemes offered in Australia by a Canadian company.   It is also interesting that these type of abusive charity gifting tax schemes issued receipts in Canada for over $6.3 billion dollars.  The "success" in Australia was much more limited and perhaps 1/1000 of that.

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February 21, 2015

CRA letter on public body performing a function of government qualified donee

CRA recently released a letter which discusses whether an organization approved for registration as a qualified donee (as a public body performing a function of government) by the Charities Directorate requires a separate ruling to claim tax exemption under 149 (1)(c). CRA determined that a separate ruling (from the Income Tax Rulings Directorate) is not required, unless circumstances change and the status of the qualified donee will need to be reviewed, at which time a separate ruling may be requested. 

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February 21, 2015

Recent decision of the BC Supreme Court in Re Mulgrave School Foundation

The British Columbia Supreme Court recently released a decision, Re Mulgrave School Foundation, which discusses charitable gifts that are made for a specific charitable purpose and whether it is possible to change that purpose. Unfortunately, in this case the donors and schools had restricted their gift to be an endowment for scholarships and they did not have in the agreement a power to amend the restrictions.

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February 21, 2015

CRA letter on sale of a clubhouse by a non-profit organization

CRA recently released a letter which discussed various tax implications with respect to the sale of a clubhouse and dining facility being used by the members of a non-profit organization, specifically, whether the capital gain resulting from the sale of the clubhouse would be taxable, and whether the non-profit would have to submit income tax returns or information returns. 

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February 21, 2015

CRA revokes African Computer and Technology Literacy Awareness Program as registered charity

The Canada Revenue Agency has distributed a press release that it has revoked the registration of African Computer and Technology Literacy Awareness Program (ACTLAP) Inc. for involvement with an abusive charity gifting tax scheme.

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February 19, 2015

CRA has minor updates to its Fundraising Guidance to include footnote on Gour decision

The CRA Fundraising Guidance, is CRA's main document dealing with the obligations of registered charities when it comes to fundraising.   The  CRA Fundraising Guidance was initially published in 2009 but then significantly updated on April 20, 2012. At the bottom of each page on the CRA website it notes the last date in which the document was updated.  In the case of the Fundraising Guidance it shows the last update was on June 16, 2014.  I wondered what had been changed.  There appears to be only one important addition - a new footnote to add an Ontario case in which a fundraiser was charged and convicted of fraud.      

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February 17, 2015

French v. The Queen - court rejects bijuralism argument in defining gifts under the ITA

In a recent case French v. The Queen, 2015 TCC 35, the CRA asked that certain arguments related to defining a gift be struck as they had no hope of success. Campbell J. Miller of the Tax Court of Canada agreed with CRA.   The argument made by a group that had invested in an abusive charity gifting tax scheme (Ideas Canada Foundation) relates to bijuralism or that within Canada there are two legal traditions (namely common law and civil law) and that they have slightly different views on a gift and that there was ambiguity in the common law definition and that the civil law definition should be used to interpret what is a gift.. The court concluded that the bijuralism argument is not novel and that it is hopeless.   "I find reliance on Québec laws to interpret common law, when the common law is clear, is not arguable."  TCC continued "I find no basis upon which the Appellants can mount any argument that would extend the civil law definition of gift to the advantage of taxpayers in common law jurisdictions for purposes of the Charitable Donation Tax Credit. Their position with respect to this argument is hopeless."  The TCC found that with respect to the definition of a gift "There is no confusion. There is no ambiguity."   

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February 13, 2015

Enhancing the ONCA Transition for registered charities by reducing redundant charity review

February 13, 2015

CRA letter on Spousal Sharing of Charitable Gifts

CRA recently released a letter with respect to spousal sharing of charitable gifts that was written to David Sherman, one of Canada's top tax lawyers.  As a result of recent legislative amendments in Bill C-43 which received Royal Assent on December 16, 2014, CRA has changed their administrative practice with respect to spousal sharing of charitable gifts with respect to deaths occurring after 2015 (i.e. in 2016 or later).  Bill C-43 included amendments affecting how will and certain designated gifts will be treated for tax purposes for gifts occurring after 2015 and according to CRA this necessitated the change.  The legislative changes affect the taxation of gifts made by will - in some case they will provide greater flexibility but in other cases or situations they may deny certain tax benefits.   

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February 13, 2015

Charity Commission denies gun club application for charity status

In an interesting decision the Charity Commission of England and Wales decided that a gun club should not be registered as a UK charity as it "existed primarily for civilian competition and recreation shooting for the benefit of members rather than for the defence of the realm as to which there was little or no connection."

Here is the decision: Cambridgeshire Target Shooting Association – Application for Registration Decision of the Commission dated 02 February 2015 

Topics: News

February 09, 2015

Scheuer v. Canada - an interesting and wonky case against CRA for not sufficiently warning “donors”

Should CRA do a better job of warning Canadians about abusive charity gifting tax schemes?  Well a group of Plaintiffs who participated in the abusive tax shelter gifting scheme Global Learning Group Inc (GLGI) thinks so.   "The Plaintiffs made a claim in negligence in 2011 against Her Majesty the Queen, the Canada Revenue Agency [CRA], and the Attorney General of Canada for the CRA’s alleged breach of its duty of care by failing to properly warn the Plaintiffs in a timely fashion of the consequences that could follow from their participation in the GLGI program."

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February 09, 2015

CRA has new powers to disclose criminal behaviour to law enforcement

According to Canadian Press "The federal revenue agency can now hand the police possible evidence of serious crime — including terrorist activity — that it happens to come across while reviewing taxpayer files. The Canada Revenue Agency gained the little-noticed new authority, which does not require a judicial warrant, through an amendment tucked into the government's most recent omnibus budget bill."   At the moment CRA is largely muzzled when it comes to sharing information - certainly with the public but even confidentially with other departments.  

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February 09, 2015

Australian Charity Regulator is Safe for Now

A few years back the Australian government set up the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profit Commission (ACNC).   Then a new government came into power and decided that having the ACNC was just red tape and that it should be abolished.  Thankfully that new government has done some reconsidering.   Here is an article from Pro Bono Australia http://shar.es/1oiJBZ 

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Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?

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Charity Lawyer Mark Blumberg

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.

mark@blumbergs.ca
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