Avoiding 'Charity' Scams

April 16, 2009

Checklist for Canadian Charities on Avoiding Terrorist Abuse from CRA

The CRA has just published a very helpful page entitled “Checklist for Charities on Avoiding Terrorist Abuse”.

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April 12, 2009

CRA adds disclaimer to T3010 Registered Charity Information Return data on website

CRA has added a disclaimer at the top of its T3010 Registered Charity Information Return information on their website:

“The information displayed below has been manually entered by the CRA from the registered charity’s Registered Charity Information Return. This information has not necessarily been verified for accuracy or completeness by the Charities Directorate.  Registered charities that notice problems with their online information should visit the amendment page for instructions on how to correct the information.” (my emphasis added)

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April 09, 2009

New CRA Support for charity legal and compliance education in Canada

The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn announces an investment of $3.1 million to assist small and rural charities understand their legal and compliance requirements

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April 05, 2009

Is this a legitimate Canadian charity?  A Comment by Mark Blumberg

The Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) recently dealt with a case called The Millennium Charitable Foundation (The Millennium Charitable Foundation vs. MNR 2008 FCA 414).  In The Millennium Charitable Foundation case the law firm of Miller Thomson LLP, which represented the Foundation, apparently stated or inferred that the Foundation was a “legitimate charity”.  I am not sure exactly what a “legitimate” charity is, it certainly is not a defined term in the Income Tax Act, but I think it is worth considering whether The Millennium Charitable Foundation is a “legitimate charity”.

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March 31, 2009

US targets tax havens with Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act: Will Canada Follow?

Tax havens and tax evasion costs governments, including Canada, the US and those in the developing world a substantial amount of revenue.  Although it undermines Western governments these tax havens devastate the capacity of many Southern countries to provide basic services to their own people.  At the upcoming G20 meeting financial regulation and stopping tax haven secrecy will be at the top of the agenda.  If the US loses $100 billion in tax revenue every year from tax havens, then how much does Canada lose every year?  Why not take the money currently lost and use it to increase grants and contributions to the Canadian charitable sector?

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March 22, 2009

April 1st is coming up.  What should the Charities Directorate of CRA do??

April 1st is April Fools Day.  There is so much craziness in the Canadian charity sector right now that you can either ignore it, or laugh or cry.  I thought that CRA may want to get into the tradition of putting out something funny on April 1st so that we can laugh together instead of crying.

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March 18, 2009

Canadian National Avoid a Charity Scam Day

For those interested in celebrating National Avoid a Charity Scam Day you might find this interesting.

March 18, 2009

Charity Scams in Canada - Costing Us All A Lot

Here is some statistical information on Charity Scams - Costing Us All A Lot.  Just to give some perspective far more funds flow to charity tax avoidance schemes in Canada than to all the money spent by Canadian charities on relieving poverty in the developing world!!

March 17, 2009

Tax Havens Cause Poverty

If you are interested in assisting reduce or eliminate extreme poverty and you want more than writing a cheque to fix a symptom of a problem then you might find this note interesting.  Various groups have highlighted the importance of tax havens in undermining foreign governments in their development work by being a mechanism by which the wealthy can avoid paying taxes.  What does government in Canada provide to us?  Schools, hospitals, universities, social safety net, police.  Imagine what Canada would look like if we had almost no tax revenue.  Within a decade or two there would be no schools, hospital, universities, social safety net, police etc.

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February 26, 2009

Obama Budget to drastically reduce tax incentives for the wealthy who donate to charity

February 25, 2009

OECD Report on Abuse of Charities for Money Laundering and Tax Evasion - Canada does very poorly

The OECD Report on Abuse of Charities for Money Laundering and Tax Evasion is well worth reading for anyone who cares about the Canadian charitable sector.  On my quick read of the report it seems that Canada has probably more charity tax evasion than any other country.  The complete report is at: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/30/20/42232037.pdf I will be writing an article on the ethics of professional advisors, especially charity lawyers, being involved with advising and defending charity tax evasion schemes.

February 21, 2009

Millennium Charitable Foundation Case - Federal Court (FCA) not impressed with charity tax shelters

The Millennium Charitable Foundation Case deals with abusive charitable gifting schemes.  The Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) sided with CRA in this matter.  It is well worth reading for anyone concerned with the charity sector.

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February 15, 2009

Canadian charities and pharmaceutical donations -some ethical issues

There are many legal and ethical issues with the donation of pharmaceuticals to developing countries.  In this note I will touch upon some of the ethical issues.

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February 08, 2009

Canada Revenue Agency Charities Directorate Update November 2009

This CRA Charities Directorate Update presented in November 2009 provides some interesting information and statistics on compliance issues for the sector.

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February 07, 2009

Canadian Charity Donation Tax Shelters Make No Financial Sense - or any other sense

January 27, 2009

CRA calls an apple an apple - Project Trident

CRA has launched a new initiative called “Project Trident” in which they are targeting the “Triple Threat Tax Fraud” namely “identity theft, charities?related fraud, and tax preparer fraud.”

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November 30, 2008

CRA Warning to charities: no lending of charitable registration numbers

November 04, 2008

CRA Revokes Choson Kallah Fund of Toronto as tax shelter donation arrangement

The problem of abusive charitable tax shelters using the developing world as a marketing tool continues.  It just goes to show the importance of dealing with credible and legitimate charities if you want to make the world a better place.

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September 15, 2008

How Much Should A Canadian Charity Spend on Overhead such as Fundraising and Administration?

Here is my updated article on “How Much Should A Canadian Charity Spend on Overhead

This note discusses why low overhead may not be a good thing for a charity and what is appropriate.

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July 02, 2008

Redeemer Foundation v. M.N.R. (F.C.A.)- Federal Court agrees with CRA on audit powers with charities

This case dealt with whether the Charities Directorate of CRA requires judicial authorization to request certain information from a registered charity and CRA won the appeal.  The CRA note headnote/summary is below.

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April 14, 2008

Banyan Tree Foundation, law firm Fraser Milner Casgrain sued for $55m in class action lawsuit

The law firm of Scarfone Hawkins LLP in Hamilton has recently brought a class action lawsuit against a number of parties for their involvement with the Banyan Tree Foundation including the law firm of Fraser Milner Casgrain.  It will be interesting to see how this case turns out.  I predict that there will be other cases against other law firms that have been involved with preparing opinion letters for transactions that CRA considers to be “shams”.  The allegations in the statement of claim have yet to be proved in court.

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April 03, 2008

Has the regulation of Canadian charities operating outside of Canada become increasingly burdensome?

I often read commentators talking about the ‘increased burden’ placed by Canada Revenue Agency on Canadian charities operating abroad or the ‘increasingly complicated’ administrative rules.  I then scratch my head and wonder what increased burden and what increased rules?  The CRA has not modified RC4106 since 2000 (almost 8 years)  and since the publication of that document the CRA has in fact provided greater leeway to registered Canadian charities in operating abroad for example charities that are umbrella organizations.  The CRA has also provided clarifications in newsletters on various issues that they have been asked about.  The CRA has also made far greater efforts to educate charities about compliance issues for Canadian charities operating abroad including through a recent educational partnership with certain charities.

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March 10, 2008

Regulation of Charitable Giving in Canada –A Presentation by Blaine Langdon

Here is a presentation by Blaine Langdon, Senior Policy Officer, of the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency entitled
Regulation of Charitable Giving in Canada –An Update

November 29, 2007

CRA Issues Notice of Suspension to International Charity Association Network

Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?


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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