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News and discussion on implementing risk management

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CRA

Charities and not-for-profits: Beware the usual rules

Charities and not-for-profits are obviously subject to a layer of laws that are related to their special status. Often overlooked though, is that they are equally subject to the same rules and regulations as other economic actors. Indeed, sometimes there are linkages between these two worlds making the need for good legal awareness that much more critical.

 

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The sharing economy expands the tax base

The sharing economy has disrupted the traditional taxi, hospitality and other sectors, and is expanding the tax base available to governments and revenue agencies worldwide.

 

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Political activities: Consultations may have side effects

As our readers know, the new government has taken steps to revamp the restrictions on political activities by charities, by dismantling the political activities audit program and by promising a new approach following consultation with the public and members of the charities industry. It is important, however, to note that the changes may not only effect the charity realm as Nova Scotia Community Interest Corporations have similar restrictions.

 

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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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Political activities law: Charity brings new Charter challenge

When the Liberals came into power last year, the new Minister of National Revenue announced that she was putting a halt to the “political activities” audit of charities that the previous administration had been conducting for the past few years. In practice, this meant that the charities in line to be audited under the program were given a reprieve, but those that were already in the course of being audited were not. One of the latter charities, Canada Without Poverty, is now bringing a constitutional challenge against the political activities law.

 

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CRA provision misuse: The right to remain silent

Practically every tax professional in the country has had to deal with the situation which arises when the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) bases its reassessing position on the basis of an oral comment to the CRA. The difficulty is that there is no proof the comment was made or it may have been the result of a misunderstanding between the parties. In our practice we had one instance where a comment by an official of a charity to the CRA served as basis for reassessing over a thousand taxpayers. While the official admitted to having made the comment the fact was that the CRA auditor had misunderstood the context in which it was made.

 

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Business tax information just got clearer!

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has announced that it has redesigned the correspondence it sends to Corporations regarding their business tax information, including individual Canadians, and Goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) notices of assessment (NOA) and notices of reassessment (NOR). The CRA has made changes to how the notices are structured, designed, formatted, and written, making the information easier to read and understand.

 

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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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Like pornography – The Court will know major T3010 inaccuracies when it sees them

In most cases the application of law is conceptually simple the law is transgressed and a punishment applies. Unfortunately, in the charity world nothing is simple. When a charity is found to have transgressed the law the Charities Directorate may decide on a range of options. One widely used mechanism is the Compliance Agreement (a “CA”) in which the Directorate identifies the offence and the charity promises not to do it anymore. If (and when) the Directorate audits again it almost always moves directly to revocation if the charity is again (or still) offending in the same way.

 

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The Voluntary Disclosures Program: A “second chance” to come forward and correct tax affairs

In light of the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) annual report revealing that there has been a significant increase in the number of Canadians coming forward to correct their tax affairs under the Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP), we wanted to give some insight into what the VDP is about. Essentially, the VDP gives a taxpayer a […]

 

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Canada Revenue Agency new T3010 reporting requirements

There is a new reporting requirement for Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return. The addition is necessary because of changes announced as part of the 2015 Federal Budget.

 

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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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Maintain direction and control of charitable resources, or lose charity status

According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), one of its main reasons for revoking a charity’s registration is the charity’s failure to devote its resources to its charitable activities. A recent Federal Court of Appeal case provides a refresher on what this requirement entails when a charity uses an agent or other intermediary.

 

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Charities and related businesses

Registered charities, except charities designated as private foundations, may run related businesses; however, the Income Tax Act does not define what a related business is except to state that a volunteer-run business is to be considered a related business even if there is no link between the business and the objects of a charity.

 

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Volunteering for a charity is rewarding – But brings its own hazards

Volunteering for a charity can be a rewarding way to help out in the community but it can bring with it a number of legal responsibilities. Legal responsibility is often assigned on the basis of the role an individual serves within an organization. Volunteering, though, can muddy the waters about the position of the individual within an organization. This is particularly true in circumstances where the charity does not keep corporate records of its directors.

 

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