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Canadian Charity Law List

December 2016


Did charitable giving in Canada really hit a 10-year low?

I recently read a press release from a Canadian think tank that said “Charitable giving in Canada hits 10-year low”. The press release proposed that, “In total, Canadians claimed $9 billion in charitabe donations in 2014. But had Canadians donated in 2014 at the same rate as in 2006, Canada's charities would have received an additional $3.6 billion, for a potential total of $12.6 billion."  They also noted that Americans gave 1.42 per cent of their income to charity in 2014 -- more than 2.5 times what Canadians gave.” The main points being made in the press release were that Canadians are becoming less generous and Canadians are not as generous as Americans.  I have issues with both these arguments and the methodology used. READ MORE

Blumbergs' Charitydata.ca website provides further transparency on the registered charity sector

The Blumbergs' www.charitydata.ca website has had increased traffic and searches since it was recently launched.   It provides up to 12 years of T3010 information on every Canadian registered charity in a format that is more user-friendly than the CRA Charities Listing.   With the holiday giving season coming to an end, Canadians are interested in transparency and information on charities they volunteer with or may wish to donate to.  If you have found the www.charitydata.ca website helpful then please link to it or share it with friends.    READ MORE

Charity Commission report into a former charity named REDAID -lots of lessons for Canadian charities

The Charity Commission of England and Wales recently published an Inquiry Report into a former charity named REDAID.  It is well worth reading.  In Canada, directors of registered charities sometimes focus too much on the Income Tax Act requirements of a charity and ignore or are unaware of their fiduciary obligations.  Directors of registered charities have fiduciary duties that in some cases can be at a much higher standard than that which is provided under the Income Tax Act.  READ MORE

Ignorance isn’t bliss for large registered charities anymore as CRA focuses audits on them

CRA uses a risk based approach to deciding which charities are to be audited.  CRA a few months ago announced they are adjusting their audit strategy to focus more on larger Canadian registered charities. I guess someone in the past might had thought that smaller organizations, many without any staff, might be less legally compliant and they should be focused on. I guess someone now at the Charities Directorate has worked out that larger organizations have a large amount of resources, generally a lot more complexity and are to be non-compliant with the requirements of the Income Tax Act and such non-compliance could affect much larger amounts of resources. READ MORE

CRA closes consultation on political activities with a press release

The CRA has recently completed a 2 1/2 month consultation with Canadians on the ability of Canadian charities to conduct political activities. Here is the full text of the CRA press release on the closing of the political activity consultation on December 14, 2016 and some of my comments on the press release.   READ MORE

What is a “development project” and how can this add further flexibility to foreign activities

CRA's Guidance CG-002, Canadian Registered Charities Carrying Out Activities Outside Canada discusses a "development project".  The guidance provides Canadian registered charities greater leeway in certain instances when conducting a "development project" to be able to hand over capital assets and immovable assets to a foreign non-qualified donee.  This note explores how a "development project" does not have to be in a developing country.   READ MORE

Imagine Canada’s The Ethical Code Program comes to an end on Dec 31, 2016

Imagine Canada has announced that their "Ethical Code Program" is being merged with their new Standards Program. They are notifying charities that "The Program will remain open, and participants may continue to use the trustmark, until December 31, 2016. After that date, however, all references to the Ethical Code Program, including the trustmark, will need to be removed from your website." READ MORE

Which Canadian Private Foundations had the largest total expenditures in 2013-2015?

We recently reviewed the private foundations contained on the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return for 2013, 2014 and 2015.   We looked at who had the largest expenditures, what their total assets where and the percentage of total assets that were disbursed in that particular year.  READ MORE

Tides Canada closing international donation matching system with Tides US Foundation

Tides Canada quietly announced earlier this year that their international donation matching system between the Tides US and Tides Canada is being shutdown as of the end of this 2016 year.  The Tides mechanism was essentially a matching mechanism between Tides US foundation and the Tides Canada foundation. READ MORE

Charities, Privacy and Screening Donors

Recently in the UK there were fines imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office on two prominent charities.  This raised the issue of charities and privacy of donor information. READ MORE

The Rodney Dangerfield of Canadian tax incentives

There is an amazing tax incentive available to Canadians.  Few people who are knowledgeable about charities want to discuss it. It just does not get any respect! I am referring to the ability of Canadians to donate to "foreign prescribed universities".  For a foreign university to be eligible to be on the list that university needs to be a university that typically has Canadian students studying there. Then once the university is on the list, the Canadian donor obtains the same tax benefits as if they donated to a Canadian university or registered charity even if they have never visited the university or even the country it is located in. READ MORE

BC Societies Act now in force

British Columbia’s new Societies Act (the “new Act”), which replaces the previous Society Act (the “old Act”), was passed on May 14, 2015, and recently came into force on November 28, 2016. Societies incorporated in British Columbia will have two years from November 28, 2016 to transition to the new Act. READ MORE


CRA releases new Guidance on Relieving conditions attributable to being aged

Canada Revenue Agency recently released a new CRA guidance, CG-026, Relieving conditions attributable to being aged and charitable registration that replaces the previous CPS-002 Relief of the Aged CRA guidance.  READ MORE

CRA’s Alphabetical index of all policies and guidance

CRA has had an alphabetical index of all policies and guidance relating to charities.  This is a very helpful tool for charities wanting to see if CRA has a position on a particular issue.  The only problem with the list is that for a lay person they often do not know which guidance is related to the issue at hand and sometimes useful information is hidden in the appendix of a guidance.   Some of the material is also dated or picayune and not of much relevance to charities just wanting to operate with the legal requirements of the Income Tax Act. READ MORE

CRA releases new form for charities to change director, trustee, or like official information

The Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) recently released a new form which allows charities to easily update CRA on any changes to their directors, trustees or like officials.  The Charities Directorate will not speak to an individual on matters relating to a Canadian registered charity unless they are an authorized representative of the charity so it is important that CRA has up to date and accurate information on file relating to a charity's directors, trustees or like officials. READ MORE


Upcoming Webinars for the Canadian Charity Law Association

The Canadian Charity Law Association is delivering some upcoming webinars.  Registration is free but space is limited.  READ MORE

Some upcoming meetings and presentations

Mark Blumberg will be attending the CRA's Technical Issues Working Group in Ottawa on January 12, 2017.  It is a bi-annual meeting with the Charities Directorate, Finance, about 12 charity umbrella organizations and 4 professional advisors.

Mark will be delivering a 3hr presentation on "Top Compliance Issues for Registered Charities, their Directors and their Advisors" for CPA Ontario on January 23, 2017.

Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?

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.