Charity revoked for issuing inflated receipts as part of publicly traded shares scheme

October 18, 2014 | By: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Mark Blumberg
Topics: News, What's New from the Charities Directorate of CRA, Canadian Charity Law, Ethics and Canadian Charities, Avoiding 'Charity' Scams

The CRA announced that it has revoked a charity, Skyway Foundation of Canada, for issuing inflated receipts for donations of marketable securities.   In our Receipting Kit we note: "When a donor donates shares on certain stock exchanges, the CRA has “as a general rule, accepted the use of the closing bid price of the share on the date it is received or the mid-point between the high and the low trading prices for the day, whichever provides the best indicator, given the circumstances, of fair market value on normal and active market trading.” In some cases, such as thinly traded shares, this may not be appropriate."  CRA notes in its press release that "During 2008, a private group of taxpayers engaged in transactions designed to artificially inflate the value of publicly traded shares. These shares were subsequently donated to the Organization which, in turn, issued official donation receipts totaling approximately $2.6 million. Subsequent to the donation, in 2009, these shares lost nearly 95% of their value resulting in a substantial loss to the Organization."  it appears that this revocation was for thinly traded shares that were artificially inflated.

Here is a copy of the CRA press release:

The Canada Revenue Agency revokes the registration of the Skyway Foundation of Canada as a charity

October 17, 2014  Ottawa, Ontario Canada Revenue Agency

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will revoke the registration of the Skyway Foundation of Canada, a charity based in Bolton, Ontario. The notice of revocation will be published in the Canada Gazette, with an effective date of October 18, 2014.

On September 2, 2014, and in accordance with subsection 168(1) of the Income Tax Act, the CRA issued a notice of intention to revoke the registration of the Skyway Foundation of Canada as a charity. The letter stated, in part, that:

“[…] the audit revealed that in 2008 the Organization receipted donations of shares from OSE Corporation totaling approximately $2.6 million. During 2008 the share price of OSE Corporation increased dramatically in value and, subsequently, lost much of this value by early 2009.

[…]

During 2008, a private group of taxpayers engaged in transactions designed to artificially inflate the value of publicly traded shares. These shares were subsequently donated to the Organization which, in turn, issued official donation receipts totaling approximately $2.6 million. Subsequent to the donation, in 2009, these shares lost nearly 95% of their value resulting in a substantial loss to the Organization. It is the position of the CRA that the transfers for which the official receipts were issued did not legally qualify as gifts and that the Organization operated for the non-charitable purpose of facilitating the tax planning arrangement.”

An organization that has had its registration as a charity revoked can no longer issue donation receipts for income tax purposes and is no longer a qualified donee under the Income Tax Act. The organization is no longer exempt from income tax, unless it qualifies as a non-profit organization, and it may be subject to a tax equal to the full value of its remaining assets. 

Registered charities perform valuable work in our communities, and Canadians support this work in many ways. The vast majority of Canadians and registered charities are honest and comply with the law. However, there are those individuals and organizations who seek to exploit the generous tax incentives the government has put in place to support charitable giving. The CRA regulates registered charities through the Income Tax Act and is committed to ensuring that they operate in compliance with the law. When a registered charity is found not to comply with its legal obligations, the CRA may revoke its registration under the Income Tax Act.

For more information about the registration of Canadian charities or to find out more about a registered charity, go to the CRA’s Charities and Giving Web page at www.cra.gc.ca/charities.

The full press release is at:  http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?mthd=tp&crtr.page=1&nid=894799

There is further information from the BC Securities Commission on this attempts to inflate the value of the shares.  Here is a press release from the Ontario Securities Commission in 2011.

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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