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Inside Internal Controls

News and discussion on implementing risk management

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charitable status

CRA’s Report on the Charities Program 2015-16

In January 2017, the CRA released its Report on the Charities Program 2015–2016, which provides interesting insights into Canada’s charitable sector. A common thread weaving through issues related to obtaining and maintaining charitable status is the need to create, maintain, and report/file information required by the Charities Directorate and the Income Tax Act.

 

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Charities political activities: CRA consulting on rules

The Government of Canada has committed to modernizing the rules governing the charitable sector to ensure that they are operating in a regulatory environment that respects and encourages their contribution to society. One of the areas they are looking into is clarifying the rules governing charities political activities.

 

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Lobbying: Considerations for not-for-profits

There have been many recent changes in lobbying law. Some jurisdictions, like New Brunswick, have passed lobbying legislation, while other jurisdictions, like Ontario, have made significant changes to existing legislation. Here are four things not–for–profits must consider.

 

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Planned giving donors should make sure strings are attached

Planned giving has been an issue of interest to the charitable sector for several years. The enthusiasm by which the sector has taken up the discussion has permeated the donor community. As a result donations by will are a common occurrence. But if the donor does not monitor developments with the charity the gift could lapse and frustrate the donor’s intentions to support the organization.

 

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Supporting and controlling not-for-profit revenues

It’s a rare not-for-profit that isn’t spending a great deal of its time and attention scrabbling for revenue. In fact, it hardly needs to be said that effective generation and management of revenue flows are almost always critical success factors for not-for-profits.

 

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Court confirms that religious charities must actively promote a religion

Earlier this month, the Federal Court of Appeal was asked to consider whether the Minister of National Revenue had erred in confirming the decision of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to deny the Humanics Institute’s application for charitable status. CRA denied the application on the basis that: 1) The Humanics Institute’s purposes were too broad; 2) the activities stated in support of its purposes were not charitable; and 3) it did not demonstrate that it would have direction and control over certain of its resources, as its proposed funding of a foreign scholarship could not be considered to be the organization’s “own activities” or the funding of a qualified donee.

 

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What is the CRA policy on political advocacy activities carried out by registered charities?

Registered charities have special concerns when it comes to the legal and administrative application of the Income Tax Act. To maintain charitable status under the Act, a charity must devote substantially all of its resources to charitable purposes and activities—and avoid excessive political activity…

 

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Proposed Saskatchewan law would regulate lobbyists

A new Bill currently before Saskatchewan’s legislature would regulate lobbying in the province. Bill 120, the Lobbyists Act, would require persons who are paid to lobby elected officials to register their lobbying activities with a proposed government registry. The Bill contains numerous exemptions, which some critics say weaken the proposed law, but it will add a valuable layer of transparency to government, and may be strengthened in the future.

 

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Lobbying

Lobbying is one form of advocacy, and refers to a paid person communicating with government employees or politicians in order to influence a government decision, legislation, policy or programs. Lobbying can be in the form of face-to-face communication, phone calls, faxes, emails, letters, or any other form of communication.

 

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Taking matters into your own hands: dissolving before the government does it for you

Readers will know that the new Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act came into effect in 2011, bringing the regulation of not-for-profits into line with modern corporate legislation. This carries with it the onus to apply for continuance under the new Act by October 2014, or be dissolved.

 

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Charities and compliance agreements: know what you’re signing!

Charities know they’ve got strict rules to follow, and they know there are stiff penalties for non-compliance. They should also know that the Charities Directorate and the Canada Revenue Agency will work with organizations to help them maintain their charitable status, if necessary through a compliance agreement which both the CRA and the charity accept.

 

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