CRA recently released a new guidance which provides information for low-cost housing corporations for the aged which are interested in becoming Qualified Donees. The guidance replaces the Income Tax Rulings Directorate letter dated March 18, 2013.
The guidance provides information on the eligiblity criteria for low-cost housing corporations for the aged to register as a qualified donee and the application process details. Here is a link to the new CRA Guidance, which we have also included below:
Qualified donee: Low-cost housing corporation for the aged
April 23, 2016
This guidance applies as of April 23, 2016, and replaces the letter dated March 18, 2013 from the Income Tax Rulings Directorate.
A low-cost housing corporation for the aged that wants to become a qualified donee must apply to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for registration. If the corporation meets the criteria, the minister of national revenue may register it as a qualified donee. Then its name, location, registration date, and registration status will be included on a publicly available list maintained by the CRA.
As a qualified donee, the corporation can issue official donation receipts to donors, and Canadian registered charities can make gifts to it. Individual donors can use these receipts to claim a tax credit on their Canadian income tax and benefit return and corporate donors can use them to claim a tax deduction on their Canadian corporation income tax return.
To be eligible for registration as a qualified donee, a low-cost housing corporation for the aged must be resident in Canada and meet the conditions to be exempt from tax under paragraph 149(1)(i) of the Income Tax Act (the Act).
Paragraph 149(1)(i) provides an exemption from Part I tax on the taxable income of: “a corporation that was constituted exclusively for the purpose of providing low-cost housing accommodation for the aged, no part of the income of which was payable to, or was otherwise available for the personal benefit of, any proprietor, member or shareholder thereof;”
There is no definition of “low-cost housing accommodation exclusively for the aged” in the Act. The CRA has interpreted the key criteria for this provision as follows: To be constituted exclusively for the purpose of providing low-cost housing accommodation for the aged, a corporation must be both constituted and operated only for that purpose. A corporation that provides housing accommodation mainly for the aged or to persons other than the aged will not qualify for the exemption, on the basis that it is not considered to be exclusively for the aged. The CRA generally accepts “aged” to be 55 years of age and over. In the CRA’s view, low-cost housing accommodation for the aged includes comfortable but modest rental accommodation, at rents that are low relative to rents generally available for similar accommodations in the same community (other than subsidized or non-profit accommodations). As part of its programs, a low-cost housing corporation for the aged may also provide certain related services such as meals, laundry services, home furnishings, medical/nursing care, house-keeping services, resident aides’ services, and general assistance with matters of daily living. In addition to these requirements, under the Act, a low-cost housing corporation for the aged must ensure that no part of its income is payable to, or otherwise available for the personal benefit of, any proprietor, member, or shareholder of the corporation. This means that it must not distribute income, either directly or indirectly, to, or for the personal benefit of, any member or shareholder. It also should not have the power to declare and pay dividends out of income. Furthermore, the corporation’s governing documents (letters patent, articles of incorporation, and bylaws) should include a clause specifically prohibiting such distribution of income. This requirement also applies on its winding-up, dissolution, or amalgamation.
There is no prescribed registration form. To apply, a corporation should send a letter to the CRA’s Charities Directorate, signed by at least one of the corporation’s officials, stating that the corporation is applying for qualified donee registration as a low-cost housing corporation for the aged. The letter should be accompanied by supporting documentation that includes the information as follows:
- the corporation’s identifying information, such as its legal name, mailing address, physical address, phonenumber(s), and CRA business number
- the address of the physical location of the corporation’s books and records (a post office box or rural route number is not enough)
- the corporation’s fiscal period-end
- a complete list of the corporation's current officials (that is, directors or like officials)
- an explanation of how the corporation meets the criteria as a low-cost housing corporation, in particular: age of the residents; rent charged; and how this constitutes “low-cost” housing accommodation. The explanation should include a comparison of community rental rates demonstrating that the rents charged by the corporation are lower than the market rates being charged in the community for similar unsubsidized accommodations
- a statement as to whether, to the best of the applicant’s knowledge, the CRA has at any time considered the corporation’s eligibility as a low-cost-housing corporation within the meaning of paragraph 149(1)(i) of the Act. If it has been considered, a copy of the CRA’s determination and any other relevant documentation should be provided
- a complete copy of the corporation’s governing documents (for example, incorporating documents and any amendments, current bylaws, and operating policies)
- a full description of the corporation’s rental and tenant/resident eligibility criteria. This could include a copy of a sample lease/rental agreement or lease/rental application
- a description of all the programs and services provided by the corporation and any eligibility criteria, conditions, or fees associated with them
- a description of any other activities carried on by the corporation, such as any business or fundraising activities
- a copy of the corporation’s most recent financial statements
- an explanation of the source of the corporation’s revenues, including funding received
- copies of any other relevant documents and agreements supporting the application for registration
The corporation should provide as much detailed information as possible to allow the CRA to determine whether it meets the requirements for registration. The letter and supporting documentation should be sent to:
Canada Revenue Agency
Ottawa ON K1A 0L5
If the application process is being handled on the corporation’s behalf by a representative that is not a current director of the corporation, please make sure that the CRA has authorization to communicate with that individual or provide a letter signed by a current director allowing the CRA to do so.
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.