Occasionally a Canadian registered charity will want to change its fiscal year end. Sometimes it is because you want to align with another charity or funder. Sometimes you just find that there are better or worse times to be involved with financial statements and audit. If you are a Canadian charity and want to change your fiscal year end here is information from the CRA on how to do that.
As an aside it is best not to place in your by-law a statement like “The charity’s fiscal year end will be December 31”. If you have it in your by-law then in addition to obtaining CRA approval you may also need to have a members meeting to change the by-law. Also while it seems like a relatively mundane matter to approach CRA on a fiscal year end change, as with other requests of CRA it is sometimes not a bad idea to make sure that some of your other compliance requirements are in order.
Further if you are wondering what your fiscal year end is then look at your financial statements or you can check out CRA’s Charities Listing which has the fiscal year end on it.
Here is the full note from CRA:
“Asking for a fiscal period end change
A registered charity must get permission from the Charities Directorate before it can change its fiscal period end, since such a change affects the charity’s filing obligations.
To ask for a change, prepare a letter with the following information:
•the new fiscal period end;
•the reason for the change;
•the proposed effective date; and
•the signature of a director/trustee or other authorized representative of the charity.
Mail or fax the letter to:
Canada Revenue Agency
Ottawa ON K1A 0L5
Do not include the letter with the charity’s annual information return since this may cause processing delays.
Filing for the transition period
If a registered charity receives approval to change its fiscal period end, it will have a transition period that is not a full 12 months. Therefore, it must file a separate information return for the months of transition. For example, if the charity’s fiscal period end was originally December 31, and the charity received approval to change it to March 31, one complete return is required for the original fiscal period of January 1 to December 31, and a separate complete return is required for the transition period from January 1 to March 31.
A registered charity’s fiscal period generally should not be more than 12 months.
A return for the transition period or for the new fiscal period cannot be processed until the change in fiscal period end has been approved. Therefore, the charity should submit a request as soon as it decides to make the change.
The charity may also need to amend its governing document if it includes a fiscal period end (for example, bylaws state the fiscal period end is December 31, and the charity is changing the fiscal period end to March 31). We will still process this change; however, the charity must amend the date in its governing documents and submit a certified copy to the Charities Directorate. For more information, see Changing a charity’s bylaws.”
Here is a link to the CRA website: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/prtng/rqsts/fp-eng.html
Imagine Canada has a short template word document letter on their website: http://charitytax.imaginecanada.ca/files/charitytax/imce/docs/Template%20-%20change%20fiscal%20year%20end.doc
“[Date] By Fax: 613-954-8037
Canada Revenue Agency
RE: [Name of Charity]
Registration BN # [NNNNNNNNN RRNNNN]
On behalf of [name of charity], we hereby request your approval to change our fiscal year-end, from [month-day] to [month-day]. The effective date of this change will be [date].
The reason for this change is [describe reason(s) for change].
Kindly confirm your approval of this request, or direct any questions concerning it, to the undersigned.
Thank you for your kind consideration.
Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?
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.