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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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CRA revises position on the retention of church envelopes

As a condition of charitable registration, charities are required to keep proper books and records. This requirement not only enables the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) to audit charities efficiently, but it also ensures that charities are able to justify and validate the information provided on their T3010, Registered Charity Information Returns. One of the most common […]

 

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Observing the impossible law

That charities are subject to laws that cannot be obeyed is symptomatic of several problems. In part this can be traced back to the federal government’s lack of constitutional jurisdiction in legislating in this area (a topic we have written about many times). But the role of the courts in ensuring that laws meet the principles of natural justice has become muddied with the long record of losses by charities at the Federal Court of Appeal. However, the solution to this particular problem—including some of the more problematic parts of the political activities tests may be simpler than redrafting the constitutional division of powers.

 

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Overview of record keeping obligations for non-profit organizations and registered charities

While non–profit organizations and charities are usually busy carrying out the purposes of their organization, record keeping often takes a back seat to other priorities. However, good record keeping practices by a non–profit organization or a registered charity should not be overlooked.

 

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Israeli arrests provide lessons for Canadian charities

For most Canadians and Canadian Charities the Anti-Terrorism rules are a red herring to be reviewed only in the rarest of situations, if at all. However, recent events in Israel provide some motivation for Canadian Charities doing work abroad to take a closer look at these rules. According to international news reports the Israeli authorities have arrested the Gazan head of an international Christian charity on the allegation that he was funneling international aid donations to Hamas.

 

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Ministry of Finance accepting comments on new Employer Health Tax rules for charities

The Ontario Ministry of Finance is proposing a new regulation under the Employer Health Tax Act, to include special Employer Health Tax rules for registered charities. The new regulation could be effective as early as January 1, 2017.

 

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Even in the face of disaster, charities should not stray from their purposes

Whether it is assisting Syrian refugees to settle in Canada or helping those fleeing from floods and fires, the goodwill of the people and charities in Canada always make headlines. In times of disaster, it seems many charities want to raise money and get on the bandwagon to help those in need. Although this may be a laudable goal for charities that want to show their benevolence, sometimes it could simply get them into trouble.

 

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Non-profit members and directors must adhere to corporate statutes and by-laws

The relationship between non-profit members and directors is sometimes akin to the relationship between parents and their newly-licensed teen-aged drivers. The key to the family car grants the teenager new freedoms, but sometimes, a parent’s only option is to reclaim the key. Members elect or appoint directors, delegating to them the power to manage the corporation. Corporate statutes and by-laws restrict the ability of members to participate in the management of the corporation once the directors hold the reins. Often, the only way for members to effect changes that the board opposes, is to reclaim the reins, by removing existing directors and appointing more amenable ones. http://canlii.ca/t/gh81g” target=”_blank”>Vaughan Community Health Centre Corporation v Annibale (2015 ONSC 2559 (CanLII)), recently examined the roles of members and directors, and the importance of adhering to corporate by-laws and statutes.

 

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Balancing confidence and flexibility in gift planning

One of the unstated pillars of gift planning is to find ways of assuring a donor that his/her wishes will be carried out after death. Unfortunately, this can be a double-edged sword. While it may help convince a donor to give now the future needs of a charity can be difficult to anticipate. Consequently, it is important to balance flexibility with respect for the donor’s wishes when discussing gift planning arrangements.

 

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Social enterprise movement is gaining momentum

The social enterprise movement is gaining momentum in the non-profit and charitable sectors. There are frequently articles in the popular news about “successful” not-for-profits expanding their activities to include revenue generating activities. There are enterprises like the old standby enterprise of selling used clothes and goods, but we hear more about ambitious plans like one recently highlighted in the Calgary Herald discussing how the local legion is becoming something akin to a real estate developer…

 

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Canada’s anti-spam legislation – myths and misconceptions

Over the past months, I have been writing, lecturing and advising on Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL). In discussing the legislation, I have encountered many myths and misconceptions about CASL and its implications. This is not surprising. The legislation and accompanying regulations create a complex and often confusing regulatory regime that contains more questions than answers.

 

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Assessing charities: Cause and outcome

Your Estate Planning process is underway. You know that you want to provide for a charity in your Estate Plan, but you have no particular affiliation with any charity. You do, however, have one criteria… you want to make sure that your dollars end up with a charity that uses it in the most efficient manner, making the best use of your hard earned legacy. How do you decipher which charity gets the most dollars to its end beneficiary? Essentially where do you get the most “bang for your buck”?

 

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Charities: When opportunity knocks… Should they even open the door?

Charities are like any other actors in society, opportunities arise and they should be considered. Some will be discarded and others will be pursued. For charities though, the evaluation of opportunities must be made with the additional consideration of the constraints placed upon charities from normal economic operation. One interesting opportunity which lucky charities face now and again are large, and often unexpected, gifts in kind.

 

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Reading the tea leaves: Understanding the conditions which charities will face in the upcoming year

Despite the fact that predicting the future is usually a job for soothsayers and readers of tea leaves, we nevertheless take the opportunity of the new year to try and understand the conditions which charities will face in the upcoming year.

 

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Indian experiment would have interesting implications in Canada

One of the advantages of being part of the commonwealth is that we share commonalities in methods of taxation and governance with a variety of different countries. So when one of these countries experiments with a different way of doing things we should examine the attempt for lessons which can be learned here. So it is with great interest that we note a recent attempt by India to mandate gifts back to the community in the name of corporate social responsibility.

 

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