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.
CRA is only allowed to release very limited information on a deregistered charity such as these letters, and only after deregistration. CRA is generally not allowed to release letters from the charity to CRA, although you can sometimes obtain those documents by requesting them from the former charity. If anyone has further information on these charities let me know. Because CRA alleges in a letter a particular set of facts does not make it necessarily completely correct.
There have been about 50 or so cases in the Federal Court of Appeal with charities challenging the CRA revocations. Although sometimes the court will disagree with some of the grounds I am not aware of any cases in the last decade of the Federal Court of Appeal overturning the revocations of CRA.
Why should people care about revocations of charities? The ability of CRA to revoke the registration of a registered charity can have significant impact on a charity and the charitable sector is an important part of our society and economy. Why CRA would revoke a charity and explanations given are important. It helps charities understand compliance issues. It also allows the public to understand whether CRA is acting reasonably in the matter. Here is a list of some of the CRA letters and in square brackets are the approximate date and the reasons for revocation and/or subject matter discussed in the letters.
Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?
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.