CRA revokes Vancouver charity for high fundraising costs

February 10, 2013 | By: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Mark Blumberg
Topics: News, What's New from the Charities Directorate of CRA, Canadian Charity Law

The Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency has announced the revocation of The Voice of the Cerebral Palsied of Greater Vancouver as a charity for allegedly high fundraising costs while using a third party fundraiser.  The press release is not clear about the other grounds of revocation.  Perhaps the CRA letters will shed more light on the CRA concerns.

Here is the press release from CRA:

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/nwsrm/rlss/2013/m02/nr130208-eng.html

“The Canada Revenue Agency revokes the registration of The Voice of the Cerebral Palsied of Greater Vancouver as a charity
Ottawa, Ontario, February 8, 2013…

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will revoke the registration of The Voice of the Cerebral Palsied of Greater Vancouver. The notice of revocation will be published in the Canada Gazette with an effective date of February 9, 2013.

The CRA issued a notice of intention to revoke the charitable registration of The Voice of the Cerebral Palsied of Greater Vancouver, in accordance with subsection 168(1) of the Income Tax Act, which was subsequently appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal. The appeal was withdrawn on October 25, 2012. The documents CRA filed to court provided the following audit results:

With respect to the appellant’s failure to devote its resources the [sic] charitable activities, the audit confirmed that in the period under review approximately 93% of funds raised by a third party fundraiser remained with those fundraisers with the appellant seeing a return of only 7.5% of the amounts raised. The information returns filed indicate the appellant devotes less than 50% of its annual gross income to its own charitable activities. The audit found that the appellant has devoted less than 15% of total income and less than 20% of total tax-receipted income on its own charitable activities.

The residential building owned by the appellant has not been accounted for by the appellant. The appellant allows the building to be managed by the Voice of the Cerebral Housing Society [sic], which is not a qualified donee. The appellant’s payment of rent to that Society [sic] is a payment to a non-qualified donee.

A copy of the notice of intention to revoke and other letters relating to the grounds for revocation are available to the public on request, in the language they were originally written, by calling 1?800?267?2384.

An organization that has had its registration as a charity revoked can no longer issue donation receipts for income tax purposes and is no longer a qualified donee under the Income Tax Act. The organization is no longer exempt from income tax, unless it qualifies as a non-profit organization, and it may be subject to a tax equal to the full value of its remaining assets.

Registered charities have an obligation under the Income Tax Act to devote their resources to charitable purposes and activities. The CRA recognizes that charities may incur reasonable administrative and fundraising expenditures in pursuit of their charitable programs. However, when fundraising becomes a disproportionate focus rather than pursuing charitable activities, or when fundraising expenditures become unreasonable or unacceptable, charities may face consequences which could include monetary penalties, the suspension of tax-receipting privileges and/or the revocation of registered charitable status.

While most registered charities operate in a manner consistent with the law, in cases of excessive fundraising the CRA will take appropriate action. These situations are addressed on a case-by-case basis. The CRA is also committed to broader sector education, for example the CRA issued Guidance on Fundraising by Registered Charities to assist charities in understanding CRA’s expectations on fundraising activities and expenditures.

For more information about the registration of Canadian charities, go to the CRA’s Charities and Giving Web page at http://www.cra.gc.ca/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.

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