Ethical Issues and Canadian Charities

CRA’s Consultation on Foreign Activities: What is New with Canadian Charities + Foreign Activities

In this article “CRA’s Consultation on Foreign Activities: What is New and Interesting with Canadian Charities Conducting Foreign Activities” I discuss what is new in the draft consultation.

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Establishing a Canadian Non-Profit or Charity - Avoiding practical, legal and ethical problems

Here is a copy of my presentation to the Canadian Association of Paralegals on Establishing a Canadian Non-Profit or Charity - Avoiding practical, legal and ethical problems.

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Ethical Tourism may be laudable but not charitable according to the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal

In the Travel Just case CRA had refused to register an organizations whose objects were very broad.  The Federal Court of Appeal agreed with CRA.  [Subsequently the Supreme Court of Canada refused an application for leave to appeal.]

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How Can Canadian Charity Obtain Cost-Effective Legal Services from a lawyer?

This article discusses how Canadian charities can obtain legal services in a way that will not break the bank.  This is a big problem.  According to the T3010 statistics a majority of charities spend zero on professional services which services include legal and accounting services.  This is far from desirable if one thinks that accountability, transparency, good governance and compliance with the laws are important.

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How Much Should A Canadian Charity Spend on Overhead - an article by Mark Blumberg

Canadians are increasingly asking “How Much Should A Canadian Charity Spend on Overhead?”  Is this the right question?
Here is my June 2010 article on the subject which was just published in the Canadian Donor’s Guide: view PDF

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Imagine Canada’s new Ethics Code: Imagining a more ethical sector

Imagine has revised its Code of Ethics (or Ethical Fundraising and Financial Accountability Code) and in this article I review the changes and provide a critique of the strengths and weaknesses of the Imagine Canada’s Code of Ethics.

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Is it legal and ethical to take over a dormant Canadian charity? - my Charity Village article

Here is an article I wrote for Charity Village entitled “Is it legal and ethical to take over a dormant Canadian charity?”

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Legal Issues for Canadian Charities Conducting Foreign Activities and International Development

Here is a copy of a presentation I recently delivered to a number of Canadian charities in Ottawa entitled Legal Issues for Canadian Charities Conducting Foreign Activities and International Development

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Lobbying and Canadian Non-Profits and Charities: To register or not to register

On July 2, 2008 the Lobbying Act came into force and many non-profits and charities are completely unaware of its existence or its effect on their activities.  Lobbying is defined broadly under s. 7 of the Lobbying Act and includes the development of any legislative proposal by the Federal Government, or lobbying on the passage, defeat or amendment of any bill or resolution, advocating for amendments to any regulation, “the development or amendment of any policy or program of the Government of Canada”, or “the awarding of any grant, contribution or other financial benefit by or on behalf of Her Majesty in right of Canada”. Canadian non-profits and charities that do political advocacy or lobbying with the federal government need to consider whether their activities fall within the requirement to register under the Lobbying Act.  This article may be helpful in understanding whether a charity or non-profit must register.

Lobbying and Canadian Charities: To register or not to register

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Managing Risk with Volunteers in Canadian Charities

32 ideas for managing risk with volunteers. Volunteers are very important for many charities.  However, one should manage the risks associated with volunteers and here are some thoughts.  

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New Guidance for Canadian Registered Charities Carrying out Foreign Activities

CRA has just released a new guidance called “Canadian Registered Charities Carrying out Activities Outside Canada”.    Although the name indicates “foreign activities” this document deals with a lot more than foreign activities.  It covers the relationship between a Canadian charity and any non-qualified donee, whether in Canada or abroad.  If a Canadian charity has dealing with, for example, a non-profit that does not have charitable status then the same rules apply as a Canadian charity dealing with a foreign entity.  Essentially, almost all organizations outside of Canada are non-qualified donees.  If you are going to transfer resources to them you need to maintain “direction and control” over those resources.  This document helps a Canadian charity understand what is required for direction and control. Failure to maintain direction and control can result in a 105% penalty of the amount transferred and/or revocation of charitable status.

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Offshore Tax Havens, Harmful Tax Competition and International Development

Offshore tax havens are very detrimental to the Canadian tax base and under cut our social programs.  However, the effect of offshore tax havens on the developing world is far more devastating.  I was reading a very good article by Peter Gillespie of the Canadian charity Inter Pares called “Going Offshore”.  It reminded me that a long time ago I wrote a paper on offshore tax havens (THE OECD’S REPORT ON HARMFUL TAX COMPETITION: Is ‘Harmful Tax Competition’ Actually Harmful?) in which I look at the defenders of tax havens and apologists for the wealthy not paying their fair share and refute the arguments that they make. 

If you are interested in understanding the international development issues relating to tax havens and tax avoidance there is The Tax Justice Network (TJN) which is an international, non-aligned coalition of researchers and activists with a shared concern about the harmful impacts of tax avoidance, tax competition and tax havens. They have a website at:  www.taxjustice.net

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Planned Giving and Professional Advisors - The Why and How to Involve Professional Advisors

In this article I discuss the importance of Canadian charities involving professional advisors in their planned giving efforts.

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Planned Giving in a Global World - CAGP Annual Conference April 2008

Planned Giving in a Global World is my presentation at the CAGP national convention about Planned Giving by Canadian charities for projects outside of Canada. The description of the presentation was “In this session, we will discuss basic information that a planned giving officer needs to know to allow for planned gifts in support of charitable activities outside of Canada. Topics will include the legal requirements and restrictions for Canadian charities operating abroad; examples of charities losing their status for non-compliance with CRA requirements; different organizational models for charities operating abroad; common mistakes and concerns with charities operating outside of Canada; and an overview of recent developments and flexibility in charities operating abroad.”

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Planned Giving Internationally in “Your Guide to Charitable Giving and Estate Planning”.

This article discusses a Canadian legal perspective on Planned Giving Internationally. It was written by Mark Blumberg and recently appeared in “Your Guide to Charitable Giving and Estate Planning”, a supplement that appeared in the Globe and Mail on Friday May 11, 2007 and was produced by the Greater Toronto Area Roundtable of the Canadian Association of Gift Planners.

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Should We Establish another Canadian Charity? Or Does Canada have too many charities?

In this article I discuss the issue of whether Canada has too many charities or too few.  If one still wants to create a charity, some of the considerations and practical details of how one does establish a Canadian registered charity.

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So how much do Canadian charities receive from foreign sources according to the T3010 Returns?

There has been a little political firestorm last week over US foundations funding of certain Canadian environmental charities.  So how much revenue actually comes to Canada from foreign countries including the US?  The answer seems to be about $831 million.  That is from Line 4575 “Total revenue received from all sources outside Canada”.  If you are interested in who got what then read on.

Here is my note of the top registered charity recipients of Total revenue received from all sources outside Canada.

Just to provide some perspective Canadian charities had revenue of over $192 billion dollars and spent about $2.6 billion outside of Canada every year.

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Structured Arrangement versus Conduit for Canadian Charities and Foreign Activities

This article discusses the difference between an acceptable intermediary relationship between a Canadian charity and a foreign charity or NGO (a structured arrangement) and an unacceptable arrangement such as a conduit.

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T3010 - Canadian Charities - Please File your T3010 on time!

This article discusses the T3010 and the importance of filing it accurately and on time.

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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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Top Receipting Concerns for Canadian Registered Charities by Mark Blumberg

89% of charities issue inappropriate receipts according to statistics from the CRA when they audit charities.  Other than non-filing the T3010 this is the greatest reason that charities face revocation.  Here is my paper that I delivered to the Ontario Bar Association (OBA) Institute 2011 entitled Top Receipting Concerns for Canadian Registered Charities.

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Top Receipting Concerns for Canadian Registered Charities by Mark Blumberg for the OBA Institute

Here is a copy of my paper delivered at the Ontario Bar Association (OBA) Institute 2011 entitled Top Receipting Concerns for Canadian Registered Charities.  I was delighted to be co-chairing the program and that there were 90 lawyers out for the sessions.

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Top Ten Canadian Charity Law Issues by Mark Blumberg

So much is written about legal issues relating to charities in Canada. In this article I try to distill the ten most important things you need to know about charity law in Canada.

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Updated Canadian Registered Charity Legal Checklist by Mark Blumberg

Here is an updated version of the Canadian Charity Legal Checklist.  For those who are interested in reviewing legal compliance for their registered charity they may find the checklist helpful.  

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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)

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.

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