Canadian Charity Law

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 06, 2009

CRA Publishes New Policy on Application for disbursement quota relief

With the difficult economic times and many charities and foundations feeling the pinch CRA has probably received many more inquiries about disbursement quota issues.  This brief policy will clarify some of the concerns and explains when CRA may grant some relief from the disbursement quota requirement. The original policy can be found at: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/plcy/cpc/cpc-029-eng.html

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April 06, 2009

“Canwest nonprofit coverage sensationalist, inaccurate” in Canadian Fundraising & Philanthropy eNEWS

My article was reprinted in the Canadian Fundraising & Philanthropy eNEWS at http://www.canadianfundraiser.com//newsletter/article.asp?ArticleID=2930&ClientID=13785 Of course they cleaned up the grammar and logic!

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April 05, 2009

Fundraising for International Development in Canada

I recently read “An Analysis of Canadian Philanthropic Support for International Development and Relief” which was prepared in 2002 by the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy (now Imagine Canada).  The report was paid for by the Aga Khan Foundation and has some interesting observations with respect to donors who give to international development causes.  Anyone who fundraises for an international development organization would probably find the report interesting.

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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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April 01, 2009

Understanding Financial Responsibilities of Canadian Charities

I am a lawyer and not an accountant.  Like most lawyers numbers scare me.  After all if we could deal with blood and we would be doctors and if we could add and subtract we would probably want to be accountants.  As much as we lawyers may want to be in denial we know that non-profits and charities need to understand their financial and accounting situation just as they need to understand their legal obligations.  Frequently I run into non-profits who have no idea what they need to do.  So here are some links that may be helpful in understanding a Canadian non-profit or charity’s financial obligations.  By the way I have no idea if these guys know what they are talking about because I am hiding under my computer desk afraid that these books will bite.

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April 01, 2009

2009 National Charity Law Symposium In Toronto

The Canadian Bar Association and Ontario Bar Association Charity and Not-for-Profit Law Sections and the Continuing Legal Education Committee are presenting the 2009 National Charity Law Symposium.  You can come and hear me speak about what’s new with foreign activities by Canadian charities.  It is on Thursday, May 7, 2009.  Here is the brochure for the 2009 National Charity Law Symposium

March 22, 2009

CRA’s Factors that will prevent an organization from being registered as a charity

CRA just put out a easy to read and understand list of “Factors that will prevent an organization from being registered as a charity”.  Perhaps CRA put out this list because with 4000 new organizations putting in applications every year to become registered charities, some of whom are not understanding what a charity is or restrictions on the activities of a charity, they wanted to make it clearer what will not qualify and hopefully they will receive better applications, or fewer, and this will reduce the backlog.  I think however that the list has an even more important purpose.

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March 20, 2009

Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act - Fourth Time Lucky? Will Canada get a new fed corporate law?

The Canadian parliament is once again considering passing the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act.  If it is passed it will affect 19,000 Canadian federal corporations that are incorporated under federal law.  The Bill is currently in the Industry, Science and Technology Committee.

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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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March 10, 2009

Canadian Charities

There are over 83,500 Canadian registered charities.  If you want to find out about a registered charity the first place to look is the CRA’s website to see if they are registered and their T3010 Registered Charity Information Return at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/menu-eng.html. Google also provides often useful information.  The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Vancouver Sun have also written interesting articles on the charity sector.  Canadiancharitylaw.ca has information on the legal requirements and ethical standards for Canadian registered charities at www.canadiancharitylaw.ca.  CharityVillage has lots of information on jobs within the charity sector as well as articles on different charity related subjects at www.charityvillage.com If you want to donate to any Canadian charity online, even if they do not have a website, you can do so through www.canadahelps.org

March 01, 2009

National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) “Criteria for Philanthropy at its Best”

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) has recently prepared a report entitled “Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best: Benchmarks to Assess and Enhance Grantmaker Impact”.  The report is geared towards US foundations but is equally relevant to Canadian foundations.  It will no doubt be controversial.

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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 23, 2009

T3010B - New CRA Canadian Charity Information Return for 2009

The Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency has revised their form T3010A with a new form called the T3010B, and it is supposed to be used by Canadian charities for fiscal years ending in 2009.

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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 20, 2009

Scaremongering charities in a recession is not helpful - Canwest should improve coverage

In this article, I look at and criticize a sensationalist and inaccurate article in the Ottawa Citizen entitled “Downturn will sink 10,000 non-profits: think-tank:  ‘We’re just beginning to see blood in the pool,’ expert warns”.

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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 13, 2009

Research Paper “Global Philanthropy and International Cooperation: A Guide to Trends and Issues”

Here is a research paper prepared by Betty Plewes for the CCIC entitled “Global Philanthropy and International Cooperation: A Guide to Trends and Issues. ” 
http://www.ccic.ca/e/docs/002_voluntary_2008-12_philanthropy_article.pdf

February 12, 2009

Workshop on Minimum Standards for Education in Emergencies (MSEE), and Crises- by CIDA and STC

This CIDA and Save the Children Canada workshop sounds really interesting on “Understanding and Using the Minimum Standards for Education in Emergencies (MSEE), Chronic Crises and Early Reconstruction.”

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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

February 04, 2009

Charities and the Do Not Call List - Yes Charities Must Register who telemarket

Since September 30, 2008 charities who telemarket must register.  The Federal government recently rejected an attempt by AFP and Imagine Canada to exempt charities from any registration requirement.  Here is my article on the Do Not Call List (DNCL) and Canadian charities.

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February 01, 2009

Political Activities and Canadian Charities -Some CRA Policies and letters on political activities

Most of CRA’s view on political activities by Canadian charities can be found in Policy Statement CPS-022 Political Activities. (see Political Activities (CPS - 022) located at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/plcy/cps/cps-022-eng.html   I highly recommend that any charity considering conducting any activity that could be construed as political, review in detail the CPS-022 Policy Statement on Political Activities.

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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.

mark@blumbergs.ca
416.361.1982
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