Ethics and Canadian Charities

May 31, 2015

CRA presentation to Finance Committee on terrorism

On March 26, 2015, Rick Stewart, Assistant Commissioner, Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs Branch, of the Canada Revenue Agency, made a presentation to the Finance Committee on terrorism.  

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May 23, 2015

Canadian Charities Conducting International Activities (2015)

Here is an article entitled Canadian Charities Conducting International Activities (2015). It will be of interest to Canadian charities that are, or considering, operating outside of Canada.

May 21, 2015

Fundamentals of International Activities by Canadian Registered Charities

Over 5000 Canadian registered charities operate outside of Canada and they cumulatively spend around $3 billion per year on foreign activities.  The Fundamentals of International Activities by Canadian Registered Charities is a 1/2 day presentation with charity lawyer Mark Blumberg which discusses international activities by Canadian charities and related regulatory issues.  The first Fundamentals of International Activities by Canadian Registered Charities will be held on Tuesday September 22, 2015 from 1PM-4PM. Some charities operating abroad are not aware of, or compliant with, their legal requirements and foreign activities has been an area that has been scrutinized by CRA in its audits and can result in revocation of charitable status if the rules are not followed.

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May 21, 2015

Fundamentals of Political Activities by Canadian Registered Charities

The involvement of charities in political activities has been a major story since 2012. The 2012 Federal Budget introduced new reporting requirements for charities for 2013 but does not fundamentally affect the ability of charities to engage in political activities. Significant resources have been provided to the Charities Directorate to audit charities who conduct political activities. On Tuesday September 22, 2015 we will conduct a 1/2 day program from 9AM-12PM entitled Fundamentals of Political Activities by Canadian Registered Charities.  

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April 28, 2015

Fundamentals of Receipting by Canadian Charities [SOLD OUT]

Properly issuing official donation receipts has been challenging for many registered charities.  According to the CRA, 89% of registered charities that are audited are not correctly issuing official donation receipts.  Issuing incorrect receipts can result in revocation or penalties. It is easier to do it right than fix problems later! Here is a new half-day program from Blumbergs entitled "Fundamentals of Receipting by Canadian Charities".

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April 27, 2015

Fundamentals of Employment Law for Charities and Non-Profits

Blumbergs will be holding a half-day seminar on May13, 2015, Fundamentals of Employment Law for Charities and Non-Profits from 9AM-12PM.  

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April 24, 2015

Political Activity Audits and the CRA Program Update 2015

We have blogged about the CRA Program Update 2015 separately but wanted to focus here on what the update provides in terms of information on the political activity audits of CRA's Charities Directorate.  CRA should be commended for publishing a program update.  I am certainly not aware of any regulatory requirement that they need to, but the program update does provide useful information for the charity sector.  In the program update you have to read pretty far into the 5000 word document to see the "Charities and Political Activities" update but it is important so we have created a separate blog post. 

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April 17, 2015

Largest Canadian Registered Charities by Employment Compensation

We prepared an article on the largest Canadian charity employers.  The article is entitled "Largest Canadian Registered Charities by Employment Compensation"

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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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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 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 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 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 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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February 09, 2015

Globe and Mail article “Think tanks need to show us the money”

The Globe and Mail had an article by Konrad ​Yakabuski questioning the degree of transparency about sources of funding with Canadian registered charities that are "think tanks"

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February 08, 2015

Updated Canadian Registered Charity Legal Checklist by Mark Blumberg

Here is an updated version of the Canadian Charity Legal Checklist.  For those who are interested in reviewing legal compliance for their registered charity they may find the checklist helpful.  

January 23, 2015

ONN webinar “Advocacy and Political Activities: Busting myths and misconceptions!”

On February 11, 2015, I will be delivering a webinar for the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) entitled "Advocacy and Political Activities: Busting myths and misconceptions!"

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January 23, 2015

Note from Marni Soupcoff of the Canadian Constitution Foundation on the Broadbent Institute Report

I received an email from Marni Soupcoff of the Canadian Constitution Foundation.  She discusses the narrative that supposedly no "right-leaning" groups are being audited for political activities.  I thought I would share it.

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January 15, 2015

CASL provisions for installing computer programs come into effect today, January 15, 2015

Starting January 15, 2015, the CASL provisions pertaining to the installation of computer programs come into effect. These new provisions require persons who install software or computer programs on another person’s computer system, in the course of commercial activity, to obtain express consent from those other persons. Persons who do not comply with these new provisions could face some hefty fines.

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January 07, 2015

Mark will be presenting at the OHA 3nd Annual Strengthening Foundation Governance Workshop on May 22

Mark will be presenting at the OHA 3nd Annual Strengthening Foundation Governance Workshop on May 22, 2015 on "Top Compliance Issues for Foundations".

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December 19, 2014

CBC article “Holiday giving? Don’t pick a charity by financial statements alone”

CBC discusses charitable giving in an article entitled "Holiday giving? Don't pick a charity by financial statements alone: Research, volunteer and donate directly if you want to give smart this holiday season".

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December 14, 2014

Broader Public Sector Executive Compensation Act, 2014 in Ontario has passed.

We have discussed on this blog the Broader Public Sector Executive Compensation Act, 2014 (the "Act"). The Act has now been passed on December 9, 2014 and received Royal Assent on December 11, 2014.   It will be interesting to see the effect of this Act on non-profits and charities in Ontario.

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December 13, 2014

Blumbergs’ Canadian Charity Law Boot Camp 2015

We are looking forward to presenting the Blumbergs' Canadian Charity Law Boot Camp 2015 on April 14, 2015.   For information or to register see: Blumbergs' Canadian Charity Law Boot Camp 2015

December 13, 2014

CRA revokes registration of Ecotecture: Centre for Ecological Art and Architecture

The Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency has revoked the charitable registration of Ecotecture: Centre for Ecological Art and Architecture for its involvement in a scheme known as the Via Project or Vintage Iconic Archives.   The former registered charity had issued over $200 million in receipts.  

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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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