What's New from the Charities Directorate of CRA

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 governace 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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October 08, 2014

Taxpayers’ Ombudsman releases major report “Donor Beware” on charity gifting tax shelter schemes

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.

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October 07, 2014

CRA releases updated information on tax shelters

On October 3, 2014, CRA released an updated resource on tax shelter arrangements on the CRA website. This page provides detailed information on what is a tax shelter, provides links to case law dealing with tax shelters, and cautionary steps for individuals considering getting involved in a tax shelter.  

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October 07, 2014

CRA letter - approved research institute status

CRA recently released a letter which discusses whether required changes to a research institute's (the 'Institute') Letters Patent (the charitable purposes and the dissolution clause) in order to obtain status as a registered charity will affect the status of the entity as an approved research institute for purposes of clause 37(1)(a)(ii)(B) of the Income Tax Act. CRA held that there were no changes being made to the activities of the Institute so its status as an approved research institute would not be affected. Here is an excerpt from the CRA letter:

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October 07, 2014

CRA letter - providing loans to charities

CRA recently released a letter which discusses various issues relating to a non-interest bearing loan provided to a charitable foundation. A taxable Canadian corporation provided a loan to a related Foundation (a Canadian registered charity) which did not carry a stipulated rate of interest. The question was whether the Corporation should charge interest at a prescribed rate to the Foundation. It was found that Section 69(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act may deem the holder to acquire the loan at a cost that is less than the principal amount. Here is an excerpt from the letter:

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September 30, 2014

Blumbergs’ Snapshot of the BC Charity Sector 2012

I was asked by a friend in Vancouver to prepare a Blumbergs’ Snapshot of the BC Charity Sector 2012.   Hopefully someone will find it helpful.   

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September 22, 2014

CRA Notices to Registered Charities on CCA/CNCA continuance may or may not be accurate

CRA has been sending out numerous notices with respect to the importance of Canada Corporations Act (CCA) corporations continuing to the new Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (CNCA).  A number of people have contacted us with respect to the notice.   In some cases the Federal corporations  were established in 2012 or 2013 under the CNCA.   In other words they were never even under the CCA and cannot continue to the CNCA.  Therefore, some of these notices may be sent to corporations that need to make changes, but others may be sent in error.   You can check your status and under which act you are currently under at the Industry Canada website.  It is easy and free.  

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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 17, 2014

CRA revokes the charitable registration of the Friends and Skills Connection Centre

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has revoked the charitable registration of the Friends and Skills Connection Centre, a charity based in Etobicoke, Ontario. The revocation was effective as of September 13, 2014. According to CRA, the charity was not maintaining adequate books and records, failed to file an accurate T3010 Return, failed to operate within its charitable mandate, and was conducting serious breaches with respect to its receipting practices. Also, one of the directors of the charity was determined by CRA to be an ineligible individual. Here is an excerpt from the notice of intention to revoke letter issued by CRA:

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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 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!

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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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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.

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