Ethics and Canadian Charities

September 17, 2014

Webinar “Foreign Activities 101: Introduction to Canadian charities carrying out foreign activities”

I will be delivering a webinar for the Canadian Charity Law Association entitled "Foreign Activities 101: Introduction to Canadian charities carrying out foreign activities".  It is free but you need to register.

Here is a link to the registration page for "Foreign Activities 101: Introduction to Canadian charities carrying out foreign activities".

For other Canadian Charity Law Association webinars see:  http://ow.ly/BCWG0 

September 12, 2014

Imoh v. The Queen - another false receipting case

Did Mr. Imoh give charitable donations of 45,000, in cash, to Revival Time Ministries International over 3 year? Did Mr. Bello give $15,000 to the same charity?   This is the crux of the case.  You can read about Revival Time Ministries International's revocation by CRA here.  (As an aside and outside the scope of charity law you can read about allegations of sexual assault here.)   Far from having poor records or no records the charity produced some Canadian bank statements which the charity seemed to prepare for itself.  I did not that you can prepare your own bank statements but I learn a new thing everyday!  This case really enhanced my understanding of charity law in Canada!

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September 06, 2014

Which Canadian Registered Charities Spent Money on “political activities” and how much in 2012

We recently reviewed the T3010 information for 2012.   The database was prepared by the Charities Directorate of CRA in June 2014 and covers about 85,477 charities which is almost all of the 2012 T3010 returns.  Canadian registered charities were required to disclose on the 2012 T3010 “Did the Charity Carry on Political Activities During the Fiscal Year?” (line 2400) and “Enter the Total Amount spent by the Charity on these activities” (line 5000)

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September 04, 2014

The Great Debate:  Be it Resolved That Rating charities improves the charitable sector

Over the last few years in both Canada and the US there have been greater attempts to rate charities.   As part of the Blumbergs' Charity Law Institute 2014 see "The Great Debate:  Be it Resolved That Rating charities improves the charitable sector".   We will have Kate Bahen and Greg Thomson, of Charity Intelligence, arguing for rating of charities and Mark Blumberg arguing against.  Here is more information on the Blumbergs' Charity Law Institute 2014 and the many other important topics.

August 28, 2014

CRA releases ineligible individual guidance

The CRA yesterday released its guidance on ineligible individuals (CG-024).   The new rules were announced in the 2011 Federal Budget and it is good to see CRA finally providing its guidance on ineligible individuals.

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August 26, 2014

Partial Glimpse at 2013 T3010 Filings Dealing with Political Activities by Canadian Charities

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. 

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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

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 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 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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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 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 16, 2014

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation and its impact on charities and non-profit organizations

On July 1, 2014 Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) will come into force.   Here is a brief article describing some of the key points of CASL and how it will impact Canadian charities.

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June 05, 2014

Narul Hassan vs. The Queen -fraudulent receipting and fraud upon the public

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."

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June 05, 2014

UK government to bring in more protections for charities

In The Queen's Speech 2014 it notes the introduction of a bill to protect charities.

Here is a quote from The Queen's Speech 2014:

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June 04, 2014

David, R. et al. v. the Queen (TCC) - CRA files appeal

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.

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May 30, 2014

SCC denies leave to appeal in Neville v. National Foundation for Christian Leadership

On May 29, 2014 the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal in Neville v. National Foundation for Christian Leadership.   It was an application for leave to appeal the decision of the BCCA in January 2014.  

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May 23, 2014

Save the Date - October 15, 2014 - Blumbergs’ Charity Law Institute

On October 15, 2014 the Blumbergs Charity Law Institute will be held in Toronto.   

May 16, 2014

Kathryn Kossow v. Her Majesty The Queen - leave to appeal dismissed with costs by SCC on May 15

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.  

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May 06, 2014

Blurb from Ontario Non-profit Network (ONN)

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!"

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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
416.361.1982
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