Ethics and Canadian Charities

January 27, 2018

Our directory of top resources for Canadian registered charities

Over the last 10 or more years, we have published over 2500 blog posts.  Except for a few avid readers, that might be a little overwhelming so we have started to create a directory of some of the top resources for Canadian charities.  This will be particularly helpful for those who are new to registered charity compliance issues or to the charity sector.

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January 25, 2018

With foreign activities what is the difference between a conduit and a structured arrangement?

Here is an updated article on the difference between a conduit and a structured arrangement - it is entitled Canadian Charities and Foreign Activities: Conduit versus Structured Arrangement.

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January 22, 2018

Common Paragraphs for an Administrative Fairness Letter from the Charities Directorate of CRA

Here is our note "Common Paragraphs for an Administrative Fairness Letter from the Charities Directorate of CRA". It contains explanations of common concerns that CRA may find during an audit that, unless appropriately addressed, may result in various penalties, sanctions or even revocation.

January 17, 2018

CRA Charities Directorate Audit Statistics

In a presentation to E&Y Gary Huenemoeder of the Charities Directorate provided certain updated audit statistics for 2016-2017 which shows the outcomes of the CRA's completed audits.

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January 09, 2018

Top 68 CRA Reasons for Denying your Canadian Registered Charity Application

In this article "Top 68 CRA Reasons for Denying your Canadian Registered Charity Application" we have obtained from CRA a list of some of the most common and not so common reasons for CRA to be concerned with a charity application.   

January 07, 2018

CRA has just released it’s 2018 T3010 annual return form for Canadian registered charities

CRA has just released the 2018 T3010 Registered Charity Information Return.  The T3010 is a form that Canadian registered charities need to file each year within six months of their fiscal year-end. Failure to file the return can quickly result in revocation.

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December 20, 2017

Top Canadian charity law compliance issues By Mark Blumberg

Here is an article on Top Canadian charity law compliance issues by Mark Blumberg.  Hopefully it provides a good overview of the most common compliance issues for Canadian registered charities with an emphasis on concerns from the Charities Directorate of CRA.

December 20, 2017

Top Tips for Serving as a Director of a Canadian Registered Charity by Mark Blumberg

Being a director of a Canadian registered charity is an important task and this article Top Tips for Serving as a Director of a Canadian Registered Charity may be helpful in explaining some of the expectations and requirements of the position. 

December 16, 2017

Canadian Charity Foreign Activity Legal Checklist - Working with Foreign Charities or Intermediaries

Here is a new checklist from Blumbergs that will assist Canadian registered charities either interested or currently conducting foreign activities.  It is called Canadian Charity Foreign Activity Legal Checklist - Working with Foreign Charities or Intermediaries 2017.

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November 30, 2017

US changes to tax code could mean big problems for US charities

The US House and Senate are looking at major changes to the tax code that could have a significant impact on US donors and whether they receive any tax incentives for their donations.  Now, 1 in 3 US donors may get a tax incentive when they donate to charity; with the proposed changes, only 1 in 20 US donors will receive a tax incentive for their donations.  A number of US charity umbrella groups have been lobbying hard to prevent certain changes.  We will know shortly whether the charity sector will be blindsided or if last minute amendments will occur.  There are lots of lessons here for Canada.

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November 14, 2017

Class action lawsuit for $800 million over Global Learning Group Inc. (GLGI) donation program

Apparently a class action lawsuit has been launched relating to the GLGI scheme.  In a press release the lawyers for the plaintiffs note "the commencement of a proposed $800 million class action lawsuit against Global Learning Group Inc. (GLGI), and other individuals and entities involved in the development, structuring, creation, promotion and operation of the Global Learning Gifting Initiative Charitable Donation Program (the Gift Program), a complex leveraged charitable donation tax scheme that operated from 2004 to 2014."

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November 10, 2017

CRA Launches Charities Education Program

The CRA has recently announced the launch of a new program called the Charities Education Program.  The program is going to have CRA auditors visit charities but not in the normal audit capacity.   The CRA anticipates that about 500 of these visits will take place per year.  We will see how the program works out but there are going to be some reservations about this new initiative.   If this is an educational program are CRA auditors the best people to do the program? Will charities be confused by this program and the difference between this program and the regular audit program?  Could the resources being used for this program rather be used for responding to written correspondence and charity applications sooner, because they are both taking about a year right now?  Time will tell how the program works out.    

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November 08, 2017

Presentation to AFP GTA Congress 2017 on T3010 and Transparency in the Charitable Sector

On November 20, 2017 I am presenting to the AFP GTA Congress 2017 a breakout session "T3010 and Transparency in the Charitable Sector".

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October 28, 2017

CRA has some thoughts on advantages and gala dinners - fundraising costs and advantage are not same

Many Canadian charities conduct gala dinners although it seems fewer than in the past.   We recently spoke to CRA regarding the amounts that should be deducted for gala dinners as an advantage when issuing receipts.  CRA said that any costs to set up the event, eg. venue, flowers, decorations, etc. are considered to be fundraising costs and should be reflected as such on the T3010 but in terms of the amounts that need to be deducted from an official donation receipt, it would be the value of the meal, drinks, advantage etc. received by the donor – not necessarily the costs.

Essentially what would a donor would pay to have a dining experience at a similar venue. In terms of “nicer” venues, they said that while the venue cost isn’t necessarily deducted as an advantage, it is generally factored into the value received by the donor since dinner at a similar “nicer” venue will likely be higher, thus a higher advantage received.   


 

October 28, 2017

Prescribed foreign universities can have their qualified donee status be revoked by the CRA

Canada has an unusually generous system in which foreign universities that have a couple of Canadian students studying there can obtain the equivalent of Canadian registered charity status with almost none of the obligations. Here is an article describing that process.  However, CRA can remove charities from the list if they don't continue to meet the requirements (for example to have the 2 students) or they don't respond to CRA requests every 5-10 years for confirmation of information. 

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October 28, 2017

Charity Commission releases guidance on “grant funding an organisation that isn’t a charity”

The Charity Commission of England and Wales has released a guidance Grant funding an organisation that isn’t a charity. It sets certain standards when an English charity provides a grant to a group that is not a charity such as a non-profit or social enterprise, businesses or foreign groups that is not "or may not be" a charity.  In Canada when a Canadian registered charity gives funds to a "qualified donee" it is typically relatively straightforward and simple, however, when a Canadian charity transfer funds or resources to a non-qualified donee such as a foreign charity then these sort of rules apply.  In Canada it is called having a "structured arrangement" with direction and control. I will discuss the Canadian rules at the end.

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October 25, 2017

Third-party civil penalty disclosure from CRA - 164m in penalties from 2009 - 2016

CRA has provided information through ATIP on third-party civil penalties from 2009 to 2016.  The number of completed third-party penalty audits where it was determined that the penalty would be applied is 67.  The amount of the penalties was about $164 million.  Here is the disclosure.

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October 24, 2017

CRA’s Draft Guidance Advancement of religion and charitable registration is released through ATIP

There are approximately 32,000 registered charities in Canada that are religious charities. They account for approximately 40% of all the registered charities in Canada.  It is important that Canadian registered charities are aware of CRA‘s views on what is religion and when are activities of religious charities that are ostensibly religious not in fact “advancing religion”.  Or when are such activities providing undue private benefit.  We just obtained a copy of CRA's draft Guidance Advancement of religion and charitable registration and it is important that charities and others interested in this topic are aware of the guidance.

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September 30, 2017

Blumbergs’ Receipting Kit 2017 by Mark Blumberg

[UPDATED RECEIPTING KIT 2018] We have just released our updated Blumbergs' Receipting Kit 2017. The Blumbergs' Receipting Kit 2017 is for Canadian registered charities and other qualified donees who wish to issue official donation receipts under the Income Tax Act (Canada), which are sometimes referred to as "tax receipts".  It has a general description of how receipting should be conducted and then copies of documents and resources from the CRA and elsewhere that relate to receipting.

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September 28, 2017

Upcoming CPA Ontario charity programs with Mark Blumberg

Mark Blumberg will be delivering two upcoming Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario (CPA Ontario) charity programs:  Charity Fundraising and Receipting Rules - A Primer for Accountants and T3010 and Transparency in the Charitable Sector.  

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September 28, 2017

CRA reminds those applying for charity status about privacy and collection of information on them

CRA has just published a lengthy page on Personal information of directors, trustees and like officials that discusses how the Charities Directorate uses personal information provided in a charity application and in your registered charity's annual filings.

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September 15, 2017

CRA increasingly focused on and auditing internal controls of registered charities

Although the CRA has little guidance on internal controls, they are increasingly focusing on internal controls, or the lack thereof, in charities.  Internal controls are "a procedure or policy put in place by management to safeguard assets, promote accountability, increase efficiency, and stop fraudulent behavior."  A simple example is having two people sign cheques or having two people count cash.  I am hoping that one day CRA will provide greater guidance on their expectations surrounding internal controls but for now here are some thoughts and suggestions.  

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August 30, 2017

Australian national risk assessment into the NP sector discusses terrorist financing and AML

An interesting new report from The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) as well as the Australian Transactions Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) published on August 28, 2017 looked at "the risk of money laundering and terrorism financing in the not-for-profit sector, key vulnerabilities and risk indicators of high-risk organisations, groups of high-risk organisations that will benefit from targeted outreach and support, vulnerabilities that could be exploited to support terrorism, and a strategy to counter these vulnerabilities".

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August 29, 2017

Ontario Government Proposal to Allow Compensation of Directors of Charities Without Court Order

Here is Blumbergs' comments on the Ontario Government Proposal to Allow Compensation of Directors of Charities Without Court Order that were submitted to the Ministry of the Attorney General today. 

July 12, 2017

Ontario government consulting on compensation of charity directors without court order

The Ontario Government is looking at adding a regulation to the Charities Accounting Act that would allow in certain circumstances compensation for directors without specific legislation or court order.  "The regulation would authorize incorporated charities to pay their directors and persons related to them, for goods, services, or facilities, without obtaining a court order, provided specific conditions are met."   I have some concerns with the proposal and will blog in the future about that.  The proposal was posted on July 10, 2017 and comments are due by August 29, 2017.

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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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