What's New from the Charities Directorate of CRA

December 15, 2014

Industry Canada has sent out 16,000 notices of pending dissolution to 6000 Federal non-profits

Over the last 6 weeks Corporations Canada of Industry Canada has sent out an estimated 16,000 notices to approximately 6000 Canadian Federal non-profit corporations that are still under the Canada Corporations Act (CCA)  Industry Canada sends notices to the corporation and to each director.  They also publish the names of the corporations online.

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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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December 04, 2014

Changes to the Directors’ Information listed on Corporations Canada’s website

For a number of months Corporations Canada of Industry Canada has provided more director information on their website with respect to Federal non-profit Corporations under the Canada Corporations Act (“CCA”) and new Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (“CNCA”). Previously, the list of directors (and their addresses) was excluded from the free corporate information provided on Corporations Canada’s website.  However, the public was able to access this director information by filing a request with Corporations Canada (a fee per page was being charged and you had to provide a credit card for the $1-$2 charge which is cumbersome).

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December 03, 2014

Tidal wave of false receipting cases from Tax Court of Canada

Tax Court of Canada has released a number of judgements dealing with false receipting this week.  The cases all relate to a scheme in Vancouver involving the issuance of approximately $12 million in false receipts.  The cases of Azim Bani (2012-35421(IT)I, Jose Vekkal (2013-882(IT)I), Remmy Vekkal (2013-883(IT)I), Martin Izkendar (2013-220(IT)I), Ruben Nocon (2013-635(IT)I), Iraj Rasuli (2013-886(IT)I), Khorshid Rasuli (2013-887(IT)I), Ladan Abootaleby-Pour (2013‑1779(IT)I) and Oleg Komarynsky (2013-3354(IT)I) all related to this scheme.  In one case for example it notes that CRA "alleges that the Appellant purchased false charitable donation receipts from his accountants, Fareed Raza and Saheem Raza (the “Raza Brothers”). The Raza Brothers provided accounting and tax services under the trade names Fareed Raza & Co. Inc. and F & A Accounting Corporation (“FA”). The Raza Brothers were charged with fraud for making false statements on income tax returns prepared by them for their clients."  The Tax Court of Canada disallowed these false receipts.  

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November 28, 2014

Problem of abusive charity gifting tax schemes is even greater than thought

I just read this CRA FAQ with the latest numbers on abusive gifting charity tax shelters.  "As of March 31, 2014, the CRA has denied more than $6.3 billion in donation claims and reassessed over 190,000 taxpayers who participated in these gifting tax shelters. The CRA has also assessed more than $162 million in third party penalties against promoters and tax preparers."

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November 27, 2014

Which Canadian registered charities spent the most on political activities in 2013?

CRA has posted the T3010 Registered Charity Information Returns for 82,000 of the 86,000 Canadian registered charities.   About 477 Canadian registered charities identified conducting political activities whether by volunteer, staff or spending funds. Here is a link to our article "Which charities spent the most on political activities in 2013?"

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November 26, 2014

CBC story on “Canada Revenue Agency privacy breach leaks prominent Canadians’ tax details”

The CBC has disclosed that CRA had provided them with a list of private information on taxpayers who had applied for certain tax benefits as a result of donating cultural property through the Cultural Property Export Review Board.   Disclosure of confidential taxpayer information is a serious issue and CRA has released a statement apologizing for the laps and confirming that the CRA will contact each of the taxpayers who were affected. This disclosure appears to be accidental and a mistake on CRA's part.  

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November 26, 2014

CRA puts out another warning about abusive charity gifting tax shelters

CRA has put up another reminder to Canadians about abusive charity gifting tax shelters.  The tiltle is "Warning: be cautious if you are thinking of participating in a gifting tax shelter schemes"

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November 24, 2014

CRA adds another US charity to list of qualified donees that received gift from Canada

As we have noted before the "List of registered foreign charitable organizations that have received a gift from Her Majesty in right of Canada" had lost all of its charities.  Then the "Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation" was added and now the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has been added.  Both were previously on the list.  

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November 22, 2014

Humanics Institute v. MNR - refusal to register charity that claims to advance religion

The Federal Court of Appeal recently heard a case dealing with an organization that had applied for charitable status and been denied by the Charities Directorate of CRA.   There were a number of grounds for refusal including that "the plan to build and maintain a sanctuary and sculpture park, would not advance religion or education in the charitable sense." The FCA did not accept the appellant organization's arguments that the decision was "unreasonable, procedurally unfair, and in violation of sections 2(a), 2(b), and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms".  

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November 12, 2014

Ford v. Canada -what is “with all due dispatch” when dealing with a CRA reassessment

Ian Ford and Norma Ford appealed a Tax Court of Canada 2014 decision relating to taxation years going back to around 1999 -2001.    The decision notes that "Ian Ford and Norma Ford participated in an art donation program operated by Canadian Art Advisory Services. They purchased pieces of art for a particular price and then donated the art to a charity. For each donation they received a receipt for an amount that exceeded the amount that they paid for the art." Needless to say CRA did not accept the valuation and donation receipts.   CRA assessed the Fords in 2002 and then reassessed them in 2012.  The Fords argued that it was unfair that the reassessment happened so many years after the transaction.  The FCA did not agree.  The interesting part was that the legal arguments the Fords were making would have actually increased their taxes!    

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November 09, 2014

Ontario Corporations Don’t Need to Wait for the ONCA - Continuing from the OCA to the Federal CNCA

Here is a recent article from Mark Blumberg and Kate Robertson entitled Ontario Corporations Don't Need to Wait for the ONCA - Continuing from the OCA to Federal Jurisdiction.  For many Ontario corporations who don't want to wait for the ONCA which may or may not come into force in 2016, or want to carry out governance changes now, a continuance from Ontario to Federal may be an appealing option.

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November 06, 2014

CRA provides information on Sponsorships and GST/HST

CRA recently released some information with respect to GST/HST and sponsorships in issue No. 93 of Excise and GST/HST News. 

We have included the CRA excerpt on sponsorships below:

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November 06, 2014

CRA letter on qualifying as a public body performing a function of government

CRA recently released a letter which discusses whether a council that represents different Bands in a unified manner on certain Aboriginal title and rights matters qualifies as a 'public body performing a function of government'. CRA determined that the Council would be considered a public body performing a function of government in Canada within the meaning of paragraph 149 (1) (c) of the Act and therefore no tax would be payable by the Council on receipt of funds from a trust.

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November 06, 2014

CRA letter on tax exemption of income allocated to a First Nation from a limited partnership

CRA recently released a letter which discussed whether income allocated to a First Nation from a limited partnership is exempt from tax because the First Nation is a public body performing a function of government. 

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October 28, 2014

Blumbergs’ Ontario Charity Sector Snapshot 2012

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 27, 2014

Julie Guindon v. Her Majesty the Queen to be heard in December 2014 by SCC

The Supreme Court will be hearing the Guindon case in December.  The case deals with the constitutionality of certain penalties that are provided for in the Income Tax Act (Canada).  We have discussed the case in an earlier blog posting.  It will be interesting to see what the Supreme Court of Canada decides in this matter.   Apparently only about 50 such penalties have been imposed by CRA over the last decade but the ability to impose penalties is significant. 

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October 27, 2014

CRA letter on agencies and boards being considered a ‘municipality’ or ‘public body’

CRA recently released a letter which discusses whether certain agencies and boards are considered municipalities or municipal or public bodies performing a function of government and therefore exempt from income tax under paragraph 149(1)(c) of the Income Tax Act  (the “Act”). CRA indicated that it was unlikely that the agencies or boards being inquired about would meet the criteria to be considered a municipal or public body performing a function of government.

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October 27, 2014

CRA letter on tax exemptions for fundraising event

CRA recently released a letter which discusses various issues relating to an inquiry as to whether income from a fundraising event would be exempt from tax as a non-profit organization under paragraph 149(1)(l) of the Income Tax Act (the “Act”). CRA had the following comments:

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October 24, 2014

CRA adds “Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation” to list of Canadian qualified donees

Recently the Globe and Mail had a story entitled  “Canada Revenue Agency delists foreign charities”.   CRA has recently added the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation to the "List of registered foreign charitable organizations that have received a gift from Her Majesty in right of Canada".  So we have gone from no foreign charities on the list to one foreign charity on the list.   The qualified donee status is effective from 2013-11-07 to 2015-11-07.  Canadian donors can gift funds to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation and receive an official donation receipt.  Furthermore, Canadian charities can make gifts to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.    

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October 22, 2014

Terrorist attack in Ottawa - reminder to charities to be vigilant about terrorist abuse

The recent terrorist attacks in Quebec and Ottawa are a reminder of the impact of terrorism.   Canadian charities are an important part of Canadian society and it is important that they protect their employees, volunteers, and other resources from terrorist abuse.   

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October 18, 2014

Charity revoked for issuing inflated receipts as part of publicly traded shares scheme

The CRA announced that it has revoked a charity, Skyway Foundation of Canada, for issuing inflated receipts for donations of marketable securities.   In our Receipting Kit we note: "When a donor donates shares on certain stock exchanges, the CRA has “as a general rule, accepted the use of the closing bid price of the share on the date it is received or the mid-point between the high and the low trading prices for the day, whichever provides the best indicator, given the circumstances, of fair market value on normal and active market trading.” In some cases, such as thinly traded shares, this may not be appropriate."  CRA notes in its press release that "During 2008, a private group of taxpayers engaged in transactions designed to artificially inflate the value of publicly traded shares. These shares were subsequently donated to the Organization which, in turn, issued official donation receipts totaling approximately $2.6 million. Subsequent to the donation, in 2009, these shares lost nearly 95% of their value resulting in a substantial loss to the Organization."  it appears that this revocation was for thinly traded shares that were artificially inflated.

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October 17, 2014

Today is October 17 - the Federal non-profit world has not come to an end!

As many of you know on October 17, 2011, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (CNCA) came into force.  Canadian non-profits under the Canada Corporations Act (CCA) have 3 years to make the transition.  The bad news first - today is the deadline.  The good news is that about 9000 CCA corporations of 19,000 or so have moved over to the CNCA.  About another 1000 are in the pipeline according to Industry Canada and being processed.  The next bit of good news that you should know is that although the deadline for the transition is October 17, 2014, dissolution is not automatic today and in fact Industry Canada will apparently start very slowly dissolving corporations beginning in November and focusing in on corporations who have not filed their corporate returns for many years.   

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October 15, 2014

Some recent T3010 stats from the Charities Directorate on assets and revenues of Canadian charities

Here is some recent T3010 information from the Charities Directorate showing the assets and revenues of Canadian registered charities in 2011 and 2012.  It is in both English and French.

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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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