What's New from the Charities Directorate of CRA
April 01, 2009
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 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.
March 18, 2009
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!!
February 23, 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.
February 21, 2009
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.
February 08, 2009
This CRA Charities Directorate Update presented in November 2009 provides some interesting information and statistics on compliance issues for the sector.
February 01, 2009
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.
January 27, 2009
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.”
January 16, 2009
This article deals with the recent Canadian Federal Court of Appeal case Hostelling International Canada – Ontario East Region in which the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the CRA decision to revoke their charitable registration. Under the Canadian Income Tax Act, charitable organizations and public foundations can carry on “related business” that promote their charitable objects. An example would be a hospital cafeteria - providing food to patients and visitors. They can also carry on other unrelated business activities if “substantially all” (CRA says at least 90%) of the people involved in these activities are volunteers. Here is my article on
Canadian Charities and Business Activities and a copy of the decision in the federal court of appeal Hostelling International Canada – Ontario East Region
July 02, 2008
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.
April 14, 2008
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.
April 03, 2008
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.
April 01, 2008
Here is my article which discusses the Consultation on Proposed Policy on Fundraising by Canadian Registered Charities (RC4456-e).
Here is a link to http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tax/charities/consultations/fundraising-e.html which is the CRA’s “Consultation on proposed policy on fundraising by Registered Charities.” This is a 6 page document and apparently there will be another document forthcoming that is about 40 pages in length that will add to the overview document.
Here is a copy of a presentation on April 1, 2008 by Neil Cochrane and Peter Broder of the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency to the Ontario Bar Association entitled CRA Fundraising Policy Overview.
January 31, 2008
The CRA recently posted their top ten list of why applications for charitable status will not be successful. It was placed in a Consultation document entitled “Charitable Work and Ethnocultural Groups - Information on registering as a charity “. As an aside the last time I saw a study on the difference between applications for charitable status that were accepted by CRA and those that were rejected the most important factor correlating with acceptance was use of a lawyer. Although one does not need to use a lawyer, the process is anything but straightforward. If one is going to use a lawyer it is important to use a lawyer who is knowledgeable about charity law and especially important if you plan on conducting activities outside of Canada that the lawyer be familiar with CRA requirements for Canadian charities operating abroad. Just one little example they cite for denying an application “The application does not include any copy of an agreement with representatives who are supposed to help the organization to carry out its activities outside Canada.” CRA expects when one files an application that references foreign activities to be carried out under a structured arrangement (agency, joint venture, cooperative partnership, contractor) that in fact the agreement be attached. This comes as a surprise to some including experienced practitioners. Also they don’t mean some nice looking agreement - they mean an agreement that complies with ALL the requirements in RC4106. Some may see this as harsh - however, if an organization takes shortcuts and does not have the resources and advisors to put in an appropriate application for charitable status it is not difficult to imagine that some of those same people may take shortcuts later when the charity is operating.
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