Ethics and Canadian Charities
August 26, 2014
In this article entitled "Partial Glimpse at 2013 T3010 Filings Dealing with Political Activities by Canadian Registered Charities" I discuss the 51,000 Canadian registered charities have had their T3010 for 2013 added to the CRA database so far. This 51,000 represents about 60% of registered Canadian charities. In a partial glimpse of the 2013 T3010 information about 333 of 51,000 charities reported so far carrying on any political activities during their 2013 fiscal year, whether by volunteer, staff or spending. A similar number also said they spent money on political activities.
August 09, 2014
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.
August 07, 2014
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.
August 06, 2014
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.
July 25, 2014
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.
July 13, 2014
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."
July 11, 2014
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.
July 05, 2014
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.
June 27, 2014
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.
June 26, 2014
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.
June 05, 2014
In Narul Hassan vs. The Queen it is another false receipting case. "It appears almost certain that this program involved a fraud on the Canadian tax system, and therefore on the Canadian public. It is not clear to me whether Mr. Hassan was complicit or merely duped."
June 04, 2014
CRA has appealed the decision of David, R. et al. v. The Queen (TCC) to the Federal Court of Appeal. This case involved six separate appeals with respect to the disallowance of a tax credit by CRA for a purported charitable gift to CanAfrica International Foundation. The judge waived penalties and allowed the cash contribution of the individuals.
May 23, 2014
On October 15, 2014 the Blumbergs Charity Law Institute will be held in Toronto.
May 16, 2014
The Kathryn Kossow v. Her Majesty The Queen application for leave to appeal was dismissed with costs by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) on May 15, 2014. The Federal Court of Appeal released its adverse decision against the taxpayers in December 2013. The taxpayers filed Leave to Appeal against this decision at the Supreme Court of Canada on March 7, 2014. Leave to Appeal was dismissed with costs on May 15, 2014. Marechaux and Kossow are the two big decisions that the SCC has denied leave to appeal dealing with abusive charity gifting tax schemes.
May 06, 2014
Here is a blurb from the ONN May E-bulletin: "Just how many nonprofits?! It's amazing the number of calls and emails we received about this first-ever list of nonprofits in Ontario. What we know: there are 59,605 registered not-for-profit organizations in Ontario in this list, and likely more, including those registered nationally or in other provinces. While the list is not a searchable database yet, it's an important step forward, thanks to Mark Blumberg who got the list through Freedom of Information requests and made it public. ONN will continue to advocate for an online searchable database of registered nonprofits in Ontario- we hear you on how important this is for the sector-building and open data!"
May 03, 2014
I recently requested numbers from CRA on abusive charity gifting tax schemes. The number are trending down. 2006 was the highest at $1.3 billion. 2011 was $299 million. 2012 was $273,000. 2013 preliminary numbers are $100,000 but as we know there are more returns to be filed. Crossing my fingers that the 100 million does not increase too much.
May 02, 2014
The decision of David, R. et al. v. The Queen (TCC) discusses six separate appeals which concern the disallowance of a tax credit for a purported charitable gift to CanAfrica International Foundation (“CanAfrica”). CanAfrica issued to each of the appellants (or a spouse) a donation tax receipt which formed the basis for tax credits claimed in the appellants’ income tax returns. In reassessments issued by CRA for the 2006 taxation year, the credits were disallowed in their entirety. We have covered CanAfrica before (here, here, and here) The surprising part of this case was that the judge waived penalties and allowed the cash contribution (the 10%) of the individuals.
May 01, 2014
The T3010 now asks additional questions about political activities. So far the CRA 2013 database has about 36,000 charities on it. There are in total approximately 86,000 Canadian registered charities who will file their T3010s. Therefore, less than half of the 2013 T3010 forms have been filed and inputted into the CRA database so far. By January or February of 2015 we should expect an almost complete data set. We have exported the information from the 2013 T3010 database in Schedule 7 dealing with description of political activities from the registered charities that have made filings.
April 26, 2014
The CRA has updated its "media kit" and specifically the facts and figures section.
April 26, 2014
The CRA has prepared a new video series entitled "Charities and their participation in political activities". It has 3 videos which are each about 3 minutes long. There has been a great deal of interest in political activities and charities over the last couple of years. I would recommend that charities listen to these CRA videos. I will also point out that I recently did a 25 minute video on political activities for the Maytree Foundation that some may also find useful.
Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?
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