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Canadian Charity Law List

February 2013

Featured Articles

Blumbergs’ Charity Law Boot Camp in Toronto - April 18, 2013

On April 18, 2013 we will have the first Blumbergs’ Charity Law Boot Camp in Toronto.  It will be a one day boot camp on compliance and standards issues for Canadian charities led by charity lawyer Mark Blumberg.  Delighted to have 50 people already signed up to the program.   READ MORE

Mark Blumberg’s OTF article on Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA)

Here is my article on the new Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act ("ONCA") that I prepared for the Ontario Trillium Foundation blog. READ MORE

New Transparency in Ontario for Non-Profits to be released in next few months

I have been concerned that it is not easy for people interested in the Ontario non-profit and charity sector to obtain information on Ontario non-profit corporations.  With the Federal government the information is available online and free to the public.  I recently received an e-mail from the Ontario government, in response to my repeated requests to be provided with a list of Ontario corporations, that as of July 1, 2013, or whenever the implementation date of the ONCA is, the public will be able to freely search a database available on the internet with basic information on every Ontario non-profit corporation.  READ MORE

House of Commons Finance Committee releases report on Tax Incentives for Charitable Giving

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (FINA) released its much anticipated report on Tax Incentives for Charitable Giving in Canada.   The report discuss "Charitable Donations and Donors in Canada", "The Regulation of Charities", "Tax Incentives and their Estimated Federal Fiscal Cost"  as well as specific proposals such as changes in tax credit rates and changes in donations of private shares and real property.  There are also discussions of bequests and tax fairness as well as transparency and accountability of charities. READ MORE

Industry Canada introduces online filing for Annual Returns under CNCA for non-profit corporations

For many Canadian non-profits under the CNCA it is easier to file the annual return online.  This can now be done at the Industry Canada’s Online Filing Centre.

Compliance Issues

Charity settles class action lawsuit over tax receipts

The Hamilton Spectator in an article entitled “Redeemer settles $6-million lawsuit with families” is reporting that Redeemer University College has made a payout to settle a lawsuit over receipts it issued as part of a forgivable loan program.

Times of London reporting massive UK charity scheme - The Cup Trust

The Times of London in the UK disclosed that The Cup Trust, one of Britain’s largest charities is a front for massive tax avoidance. Wealthy individuals have donated large sums to the Cup Trust to get Gift Aid tax relief and then have received the vast majority of their money back. READ MORE

Charity Commission of England and Wales statement on The Cup Trust scheme

The Charity Commission of England and Wales has put out a statement on a major scheme involving UK Gift Aid.  In Canada, we have had “abusive charity gifting tax schemes” that over the last decade have issued over $6 billion in tax receipts, however under s. 241 of our Income Tax Act (Canada), the Charities Directorate of CRA is prohibited from commenting on a perceived massive abuse of the system by a registered charity until after such charity has lost its registered status (which could take 5-10 years in some cases).  In the UK their charity regulator is permitted to warn the public. READ MORE

Vancouver Sun article “Baines: Couple who cheated tax department suffer litany of woes”

I missed this article by Vancouver Sun columnist David Baines last summer entitled "Baines: Couple who cheated tax department suffer litany of woes: Chartered accountant Martin Johnson and estranged wife Celia Martin failed to declare fees earned on art donation".  The story talks about some of those involved with a donation to a major Toronto university. READ MORE

In another receipting case TCC denies receipts without all mandatory elements - Sklodowski

In Sklodowski the Tax Court of Canada has denied more charitable donation receipts because they did not have all the mandatory elements.  The judge also was concerned that the cash "donations" may never have in fact taken place. READ MORE

“David Baines: Vancouver museum’s “Michelangelo” sculptures fail to sell at auction”

Vancouver Sun investigative reporter David Baines has just written a follow-up article entitled "Vancouver museum's "Michelangelo" sculptures fail to sell at auction".  In this article he discusses how the valuations of the sculptures purportedly exaggerated their fair market value and how the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board validated the inflated figures.  READ MORE


Blumbergs Financial Snapshot of the Canadian charity sector 2011

The T3010 is a great resource on the Canadian charity sector.  We recently reviewed the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return database for 2011 as part of the Sean Blumberg Transparency Project.  The database covers 82,848 of the approximately 86,000 registered charities that had filed their T3010 and were processed into the CRA’s Charity Listing database by November 2012. READ MORE

Chronicle of Philanthropy article “Congress Urged to Require Charities to File 990s Online”

Here is an important article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy outlining an initiative to try and have charities electronically file their annual returns in the US and have this information more easily accessible online at no charge.  READ MORE

Other Notes

AFP Comments on Private Members Bill C-485 from Peter Braid

Here are comments from the Association of Fundraising Professionals on the Private Members Bill of Mr. Peter Braid, MP from Kitchener-Waterloo.  The AFP expresses some concern about the part of the Bill which would change the deadline for donations to charities from the end of December to the end of February.  READ MORE

How do I get on the Charities Directorate e-mail newsletter list?

It is actually quite hard to find out how to get on the CRA newsletter (EML) list.  In my opinion, our firm's charity law newsletter is far better than the CRA newsletter - our newsletter has all the info from CRA and a whole lot more.  Plus our newsletter has elements of comedy.  The CRA newsletter does not have any intentional comedy!  READ MORE

Chronicle of Philanthropy covers fundraising costs and changes to Charity Navigator system

Here is an interesting article entitled “Watchdog Cracks Down on Misleading Statements on Fundraising Costs”.

CRA publishes new web page on “How to get information about a charity”

The Charities Directorate has just published a new page which sets out how members of the public can obtain information about registered charities. READ MORE

Interesting US constitutional challenge to validity of church exemption from filing 990

In this article entitled “Atheist Activist Group Sues IRS Over ‘Preferential Treatment of Churches’” in the Christian News Network it discusses the exemption that churches have to filing the US form 990 and how one group is challenging that preferential treatment.  READ MORE

CRA revokes Vancouver charity for high fundraising costs

The Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency has announced the revocation of The Voice of the Cerebral Palsied of Greater Vancouver as a charity for allegedly high fundraising costs while using a third party fundraiser.  READ MORE

US report on US Tax Treatment of Charitable Contributions

In an interesting coincidence the US Congress published a report on February 11, 2013 on the “Present Law and Background relating to the Federal Tax Treatment of Charitable Contributions”.  This was the same day as the Canadian Finance Committee of the House of Commons published a similar report on Canadian donation incentives.  READ MORE

CRA View -Interpretation of a Gift

CRA recently released a letter which provided comments on the rules relating to the voluntary gifting of property to a registered charity and whether a qualified donee is required to issue a donation receipt. READ MORE

CRA View - Qualifying as a non-profit

CRA recently released a letter that discussed whether an entity that operates a private high school for the purposes of earning profit qualifies as a non-profit organization. CRA held that the Academy was not operating exclusively for a purpose other than profit. READ MORE

CRA View - NPO and Community Contribution Companies

CRA recently issued a letter on whether an NPO will jeopardize its exemption from tax where it incorporates a Community Contribution Company (C3) to carry on for-profit activities. READ MORE


Blumbergs’ Canadian Charity Law Boot Camp - April 18, 2013 – a one day primer on compliance and governance for Canadian charities.  www.globalphilanthropy.ca

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.