October 28, 2014
Here is the Blumbergs' Ontario Charity Sector Snapshot 2012. For those who are interested in the size and scope of the Ontario registered charity sector you may find it interesting. We have taken a subset of the 2012 T3010 data to look at only registered charities based in Ontario.
October 08, 2014
I was delighted to read a publication "Donor Beware: Investigation into the sufficiency of the Canada Revenue Agency's warnings about questionable tax shelter schemes". The special report was prepared in December 2013 by J. Paul Dubé, the Taxpayers' Ombudsman. The 39 page report rips into charitable gifting tax shelters. Although it is generally very positive about the work of CRA in trying to educate taxpayers and denying the tax credits it does make some recommendations for CRA to increase educational efforts to donors on the dangers of these schemes. I was quite pleasantly surprised that there were a number of references to articles I have written or websites that I edit.
September 12, 2014
Did Mr. Imoh give charitable donations of 45,000, in cash, to Revival Time Ministries International over 3 years? 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 know 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!
June 21, 2014
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.
April 30, 2014
Here are some documents from the Federal Court of Appeal file dealing with IRFAN- Canada. These documents were filed prior to IRFAN-Canada being placed on the Canadian government's list of "listed entities".
April 29, 2014
The Globe and Mail this morning had an article on the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy – Canada which is also known as IRFAN – Canada. CRA had revoked the charitable status of IRFAN - Canada. IRFAN - Canada is appealing that decision to the Federal Court of Appeal. Today the Canadian government in the Canada Gazette added IRFAN - Canada as a "listed entity". We have posted material on IRFAN - Canada before including the letters to IRFAN - Canada from the CRA with respect to the CRA's concerns. It will be interesting to see how this story develops and the status of the appeal.
April 26, 2014
The Charities Aid Foundation in the UK has been publishing a World Giving Index for a number of years. It compares donations, volunteering and helping strangers in about 130 countries. Overall Canada comes in 2nd. Although such an endeavour is quite subjective, it is certainly better than trying to equate donations on a tax form with "generosity".
March 24, 2014
The Department of Finance has released the "Notice of Ways and Means Motion to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures and Explanatory Notes". Some of the provisions were announced in the Budget such as changes to ecological gifts, cultural property, charity parking, gifts from the Iranian and Syrian government (and agents).
March 15, 2014
For a number of years we have been providing the public with copies of CRA revocation letters. These letters set out the CRA reasons for revocation of charitable status when CRA is alleging cause. We recently requested from CRA some of the older revocation letters and we have posted them below. It is interesting to see the difference between the current reasons for revocation and those from quite a few years ago.
February 24, 2014
The Charity Commission of England and Wales notes that “There is genuine and desperate need for humanitarian assistance to help people affected by the conflict in Syria. UK charities and their partners are playing an important role in the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria and neighbouring countries.” However, they discuss how the use of aid convoys has and can be used to facilitate the travel of “foreign fighters” and the resources of the charity can be missapplied to non-charitable purposes. The Charity Commission provides a number of suggestions which could also be relevant to Canadian charities. Canadian charities might also find helpful the CRA’s checklist on avoiding involvement with terrorism.
February 10, 2014
Today Finance Minister Jim Flaherty introduced the Canadian Federal Budget 2014. The budget had a large number of provisions dealing with non-profits and charities. Here are some excerpts from the Federal Budget in one PDF document. Overall I was very pleased with the provisions of the budget dealing with charities.
February 07, 2014
In a Globe and Mail article entitled “Budget will include measures to expose links between charities and crime, Flaherty says” there is a discussion of potential items affecting charities in the 2014 Federal Budget set to be delivered on February 11, 2014.
December 19, 2013
CRA is putting out better notices on donating wisely. I particularly like this advice “Get to know the charity.” Start by visiting the charity’s website to learn about its activities and how it’s managed. You can also review its financial information and activities by looking at its information returns using the CRA’s Charity Quick View at www.cra.gc.ca/charitylists. One of the best ways to learn about a charity is to volunteer.”
November 12, 2013
The Humanitarian Coalition has launched an appeal for Typhoon Haiyan which has killed many people in the Philippines and left many homeless. “The Humanitarian Coalition is a joint appeal mechanism. It is comprised of CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Québec, Plan Canada and Save the Children. With a combined presence in more than 120 countries, we bring together Canada’s leading aid agencies to finance relief efforts in times of international humanitarian crises. We work together to eliminate unnecessary competition, reduce the duplication of fundraising costs, and inform the public on humanitarian needs.” DFATD has announced a matching fund for donations for Typhoon Haiyan. There are approximately 620,000 Canadians of Filipino descent in Canada. Many of them regularly send funds back to family and friends as remittances. Many will also respond to this typhoon by sending funds home. While remittances are not a charitable donation and do not receive any tax support from the Canadian government, they can be tremendously beneficial. In fact all Canadian international philanthropy is $3 billion per year, while remittances to developing countries are around $15 billion per year. I will discuss further below.
November 10, 2013
We recently reviewed the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return database for 2011 as part of the Sean Blumberg Transparency Project. We provided an overview of the whole charity sector in the Blumbergs’ Charity Sector Snapshot 2011. We have taken a subset of the 2011 T3010 data to look at only registered charities based in Ontario. This article provides a snapshot of the registered charity sector in Ontario based on the 2011 T3010 filings. Here is a PDF of the Blumbergs’ Snapshot of the Ontario Charity Sector 2011.
October 11, 2013
The Hamilton law firm Scarfone Hawkins has just filed another charity class action lawsuit. The case is Terry Emms vs. Christian Economic Assistance Foundation and Ontario Alliance of Christian School Societies. The case essentially deals with the Christian Economic Assistance Foundation (CEAF) School Support Program (SSP). CEAF was a registered charity that was recently revoked by CRA. A large number of Christian schools had apparently participated in the program.
October 10, 2013
Scientology is not considered a registered charity in Canada. If an individual donates to Scientology they will not receive an official donation receipt in Canada. In Hall v. The Queen, Mr. Hall donated money to the International Association of Scientologists (“IAS”) and argued that the fact that he did not get a tax benefit is a violation of his Charter rights. Justice Pizzitelli of the Tax Court of Canada dismissed Mr. Hall’s appeal. It is interesting that in the decision it notes “... IAS is not a registered Charity in Canada nor apparently even applied to be.” Apparently Scientology has in the past tried to obtain registered charity status but CRA declined their application.
October 05, 2013
International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (Canada) (“IRFAN”) was revoked for cause in 2011. Previously we had provided copies of the CRA letters outlining in quite a large amount of detail the concerns CRA had with IRFAN. A few months ago IRFAN appealed the revocation and over the summer there was a procedural motion brought before the FCA. The FCA notes “In its appeal, the appellant alleges that the Minister abused her discretion and acted unreasonably, in a procedurally unfair manner, and with a closed mind. The appellant also alleges that the Minister’s decision violates sections 2 and 15 of the Charter by violating its “associational rights with partner organizations abroad and charitable contributing communities and individuals in Canada” and its equality rights.” IRFAN asked that certain allegedly “fresh” evidence should be allowed in the appeal and the FCA rejected that demand.
September 28, 2013
The Charity Commission of England and Wales has reminded UK charities who provide humanitarian assistance in certain areas of the importance of avoiding terrorist activity. “Charities working in conflict zones or in regions where it is known that terrorist organisations operate need to manage risks to the security of staff, funds and aid materials. This is particularly so at the moment for charities working to provide humanitarian aid in Syria and surrounding countries and in parts of Africa.” The Chair of the Commission notes: “The misuse of charitable funds for terrorist purposes is a despicable perversion of everything charity stands for, and a betrayal of those working to deliver humanitarian aid and the public whose donations fund it.” For Canadian charities who want to operate outside of Canada and who are concerned about the potential of terrorism should review CRA’s Checklist on terrorism. Furthermore, any Canadian charity operating outside of Canada should implement the necessary measures of control as outlined in CRA guidance dealing with foreign activities.
September 23, 2013
CIVICUS is an important organization that supports civil society around the world. They have recently held their three annual conferences in Montreal. CIVICUS has just released a new report on civil society around the world. CIVICUS notes “many governments around the world are failing to keep their promise to create an environment that allows citizens to mobilise and participate in civil society.” In their new ‘Enabling Environment Index’ they looked at the best and worst countries in terms of enabling environment. “New Zealand tops the list, followed by Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway while the Democratic Republic of Congo has the worst rated EEI, followed by Uzbekistan, Iran, Burundi and the Gambia.” In the press release they made special mention of Canada “There certainly is no civil society utopia. In many countries with high EEI scores, we have seen recent funding cuts for civil society and instances of repression in others. For example, in Canada, which ranks second on the EEI, government-civil society relations have been strained due to reports of active undermining of sections of civil society,” said Pegus.” I assume that refers to the Harper governments pronouncements on environmental organizations and earlier poor relations with some international development organizations.