What's New from the Charities Directorate of CRA
August 29, 2019
CANADALAND recently had a podcast which dealt with a number of topics but one of them was charities, political activities, Elections Canada and the upcoming Federal election. The podcast was called "#227 Scandal? What Scandal?". In the podcast Jesse Brown is joined by Sandy Garossino, a former Crown prosecutor and columnist for the National Observer. The discussion on charities and political activities takes place around 25:08 minutes in.
August 27, 2019
STEP Canada had a CRA Roundtable on June 6-7, 2019 and they discussed a number of topics. One issue of interest to charities and philanthropists is Question 2 dealing with alter ego trusts and donations. Essentially CRA takes the position that if an alter ego trust is required to distribute its funds to a charity then such funds are not a charitable donation and not entitled to an official donation receipt. If on the other hand the trustees have discretion and there is donative intent then it could be a charitable contribution.
August 22, 2019
The Canadian Charity Law Association is delivering some upcoming webinars. Registration is free but space is limited. Topics are subject to change.
August 20, 2019
There has been a lot of media and social media coverage over the last few days about non-profits and charities and the rules around their involvement in the upcoming election. To my dismay, much of it has been inaccurate. While I am quite used to misinformation on the obligations of charities what is most interesting is the way in which "serious" media organizations such as CBC apparently made no attempt to actually check what the rules are and have put forward ridiculous ideas such 'if a charity registers as a third party with Elections Canada they could lose their charitable status'. As well while there are some new rules in the Canada Elections Act the main rules dealing with third party registration during an election have been around for decades.
July 28, 2019
CRA in June 2019 brought in a new charity application system under their CHAMP modernization program. Here is our article Making sense of CRAs new online Canadian charity application system which discusses the new system and also provides a paper copy of the questions on the new system. Some people, including professional advisors, have had challenges with the new system and hopefully this article will be of assistance.
We have a directory dealing with applications for charity status. If you wish to apply for charity status in Canada and need legal assistance you can retain our law firm to assist. Here is information on how to contact us. We have 9 lawyers who focus on working with non-profits and charities that are based in Canada and abroad.
July 26, 2019
The Journalism and Written Media Independent Panel of Experts released a report that they had provided to the Federal government relating to the 2019 federal budget and the proposals on journalism. Here is a copy of the report. As well here are minutes of their meetings.
July 24, 2019
On June 28, 2019, the Tax Court of Canada released its decision Promised Land Ministries v the Queen, in which it upheld CRA's decision to suspend the registered charity Promised Land Ministries ("PLM")'s receipting privileges for one year for failing to maintain adequate books and records over a foreign activity by the Canadian charity. This case is vital reading for any Canadian charity conducting foreign activities because of its extensive discussion of books and records and foreign activities.
July 18, 2019
Yesterday, CRA announced that Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has surplus items and PSPC is inviting registered charities interested in receiving items to identify themselves. Registered Charities should contact PSPC prior to August 30, 2019. Below is the full notice that we received from CRA:
July 04, 2019
Join us on Monday October 7, 2019 in Toronto for the 8th Annual Blumbergs' Canadian Charity Law Institute. We will be featuring a number of speakers covering different legal and compliance issues affecting Canadian charities and non-profits. It will be a full day packed with practical legal and ethical compliance information geared toward charities, professional advisors and those interested in regulatory issues affecting charities and the non-profit sector. Space is limited.
The price is $275 for the day. It includes breakfast, lunch, breaks, coffee and drinks, HST and handouts. There are early bird specials if you sign up early enough including the super early bird which expires July 31. For more information or to register here is a link to the Blumbergs' Canadian Charity Law Institute 2019.
June 28, 2019
We have created two new online courses for those outside of Toronto who are not able to easily attend our programs. They might also be helpful to those in Toronto who cannot wait for our next session as they sometimes only occur annually. Online course are never going to be the same as in-person courses but for many they are far easier to access and more convenient. You can do an online course at your pace and redo sections if you wish.
The first course is "Should We Establish a Canadian Social Enterprise, Non-Profit or Charity and How to Do It?". The course is $149 and you can register at https://charity-law.teachable.com/
The second course is "Receipting for Canadian Registered Charities". The course is $225 and you can register at https://charity-law.teachable.com/
June 27, 2019
Canadian charities now have more options for doing certain transactions online using the CHAMP system. Charities should look into accessing their CHAMP account.
June 15, 2019
I have just completed 4 years on the CRA's Technical Issues Working Group. Most people don't even know that it exists. The Technical Issues Working Group is fondly known as TIWG and pronounced like 'twig'. It is an opportunity twice a year for CRA, Finance, certain charities and professional advisors to discuss technical and other issues affecting the sector.
May 27, 2019
Here is a Q&A from CRA about the new journalism qualified donee category.
May 24, 2019
CRA has recently updated its Charities Listing and the most notable change is the fact that they have reduced the amount of information available on each Canadian registered charity. The Charities Listing used to have up to 15 years of data for each charity, but now that has been reduced to only the last 5 years of data for each charity. There are concerns that this change reduces transparency and accountability within the charitable sector. While the information is still technically publicly available, now anyone who would like to review older data must first submit a request form to CRA and wait a few weeks instead of that information being instantly available.
May 13, 2019
The Charities Directorate of CRA has recently announced that it is looking for feedback from registered charities on CRA's videos, social media content, and other educational initiatives. This is an opportunity for registered charities to connect with CRA and help make educational information for charities more accessible and clear. Charities have until May 31, 2019 to submit any feedback, and we do encourage charities to do so. Below is the full text of CRA's letter.
May 08, 2019
CRA is set to introduce its online system for organizations applying for charitable status. Once this system is available on June 1, 2019, paper applications will no longer be accepted and organizations will only be able to apply for charitable status online using CHAMP. We suggest that if you are currently working on a charity application it may be best to complete it and file the application with CRA before May 31 to avoid having to re-input all the information on the T2050 form into the online system and potentially avoid any initial delays or issues associated with the new system.
April 30, 2019
Properly issuing official donation receipts has been challenging for many registered charities. According to the CRA, 89% of registered charities that are audited by CRA are not correctly issuing official donation receipts. Issuing incorrect receipts can result in revocation or penalties. It is easier to do it right than fix problems later! We are pleased to announce that we will be hosting a 3-hour event Fundamentals of Receipting by Canadian Charities on Monday, June 10, 2019 at 8:30 am. Click here for more information and to register for this event.
April 30, 2019
Every year Canadian registered charities must file the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return with the Charities Directorate of CRA. In June 2019 Canadian registered charities will be able to file the T3010 online which will make the process easier and quicker. If charities do not file the form, they can be revoked by CRA for non-filing. If the T3010 is not filed accurately it can be cause for suspension of a charity's receipting privileges. On June 10, 2019 at 1pm, we will be hosting the Fundamentals of the T3010 and Transparency for Canadian charities, a 3-hour workshop on legal and practical issues relating to the T3010 filing and transparency for charities. Register here.
April 23, 2019
In December 2017, CRA introduced a new program, the Charities Education Program ("CEP") which is aimed at helping charities comply with the requirements for Canadian registered charities. CRA said it aims to visit 500 charities a year with this program. The primary targets for these visits are newer charities, as CRA is trying to ensure that the charity is starting off right and that the charity does in fact have adequate books and records.
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