Applying for Registered Charity Status

June 21, 2017

CRA will no longer review charity applications with draft governing documents

The CRA sent out an email to certain stakeholders on June 20, 2017 announcing that they will no longer be accepting charity applications with draft governing documents.  We will discuss the impact below. For those wanting charity status, you will need to at least establish the organization ie. incorporate the corporation, establish the trust etc. if you want CRA to review your charity application. Practically, since December of 2014, we have not used draft applications and we have discouraged others from using them because of changes to the process which made them less useful.

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February 26, 2017

CRA updates information sheet for prescribed university applications

CRA recently updated their guidance with respect to becoming a prescribed university outside of Canada. There are about 600 foreign prescribed universities and they can issue official donation receipts similar to a Canadian registered charity.  The updated CRA publication (RC 191) includes some revisions to the information that CRA requires for applications for prescribed university status (eligibility criteria however has not changed). The main change is that CRA only asks for 5 years information on Canadian students at the foreign university and not 10 years as they had previously requested.  

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February 24, 2017

CRA has updated the T2050 form - Application to Register a Charity

The Canada Revenue Agency ('CRA') recently updated the T2050 form used by organizations when applying for charitable status with the Charities Directorate of the CRA. 

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January 29, 2017

What are the chances of your Canadian charity application succeeding?

In Canada, the Charities Directorate of CRA reviews carefully all registered charity applications.  Some of the latest statistics from the CRA show that most charities that apply for registration are not granted it.  It is not that these organizations are bad - but you have to meet all the criteria for a registered charity to be accepted by CRA. While 1670 were accepted in 2015-16 fiscal year, many more received unfavarouble decisions.  Unlike the US in which the 501c3 application process appears to have been stripped down to almost nothing - here in Canada there is still a vigorous process to protect the integrity of the registered charity system.

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April 17, 2016

Comparison of registered charity applications in Canada and US 501(c)3 applications

The Chronicle of Philanthropy had an article entitled "Fewer Groups Got Charity Status in 2015, but Numbers Still High".  It notes a slight reduction in 501(c)3 tax-exempt applications in 2015 of only 86,915.  This was in part because of a controversial move by the IRS to introduce a simple 1023-EZ form for groups with annual revenue of under $50,000.  The 1023-EZ is a 3 page long electronic form and since its introduction there has been an almost doubling of applications.  By the way the number of new US charities last year is equal to the total number of Canadian registered charities! With over 1.2 million 501(c)3s the US has about 50% more registered 501(c)3s per capita than Canada.  

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June 26, 2014

Now Magazine “Men’s rights group used feminists’ names on charity application”

I never thought I would live to see the day.   Yes a popular magazine has a story that revolves around the T2050 - Application to Register a Charity Under the Income Tax Act.   Now Magazine has an article entitled "Men’s rights group used feminists’ names on charity application" in which it alleges that a registered charity may have put in a deceptive charity application to the Charities Directorate.  

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May 10, 2014

Is CRA making registered charity applications harder?

Anecdotally, it feels like the charity application process has become harder.  We have before published stats on the registrations of Canadian registered charities by the Determinations section of the Charity Directorate and so I thought I would crunch some numbers. I compared 2008 to 2012.  In 2008 59% of applicants were registered compared to only 46% in 2012.   That is quite a big difference. Is this good or bad?

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June 30, 2012

CRA updates information on procedures for charity application

The CRA has announced “The Application review process Web page has been updated to reflect the new procedures we follow when an applicant does not respond to our request for clarification or more information.” CRA is streamlining the application system so that if an applicant who has provided an application that is missing information etc. does not respond within 60 days of the CRA requesting the additional information then CRA will close the file.  CRA will not deny the application (which one could appeal from) but just close the file.  An applicant can always put in another application the next day if they wish.

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August 09, 2011

Charities Directorate service standards for telephone inquiries and charity applications

Here is a short note from the Charities Directorate on their service standards for telephone inquiries and charity applications.

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April 10, 2010

Improved turnaround time for Canadian charity applications at CRA with backlog removed

According to CRA “Thanks to changes in processes, more resources, and the dedication of staff and management in the Directorate’s Assessment, Determinations and Monitoring Division, it now takes significantly less time to process applications for registration as a Canadian charity.”  More complicated applications that I file that used to take 6-9 months to now being responded to in 6-9 weeks - it is an amazing improvement which is welcomed by all those involved with applications for charity status.  On a sad note after four years in the Charities Directorate, David Moore, the Director of the Determinations Division, and instrumental in reducing the backlog has moved to the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) from the Charities Directorate. David Moore was responsible for establishing the Client Interface and Service Division and led the work on the Small and Rural Charities Initiative which was and continues to be very successful in making CRA more responsive to the needs of small and rural charities. David will be missed. I understand that Linda Desrochers, will become the interim Director of the Determinations Section.

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August 01, 2009

CRA releases fillable T2050 Application to Register a Charity Under the Income Tax Act

The Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency just released a fillable T2050 Application for charitable status which will make it easier for organizations to complete the form and presumably make it more legible.  You can obtain a copy of the form.   Although the form may look simple, and is now easier to fill in, it is actually a form covering many different areas of charitable law and it is often a good idea to get some legal advice and assistance with incorporation and applying for charitable status.

May 28, 2009

CRA Releases Registered Charity Newsletter 32 - discusses new applications, T3010B, webinars,

Here is the latest CRA Registered Charity Newsletter # 32.  It includes an extensive discussion on applications for charity status and how to improve your application and avoid unnecessary delays.  It sets out the procedures that CRA will follow upon receiving a charity application.

December 16, 2008

New CRA Application for Registered Charity Status (T2050) and Guide (T4063)  finally arrived

January 31, 2008

CRA’s 10 reasons why an application for Canadian charitable status will not be successful

The CRA recently posted their top ten list of why applications for charitable status will not be successful.  It was placed in a Consultation document entitled “Charitable Work and Ethnocultural Groups - Information on registering as a charity “.  As an aside the last time I saw a study on the difference between applications for charitable status that were accepted by CRA and those that were rejected the most important factor correlating with acceptance was use of a lawyer.  Although one does not need to use a lawyer, the process is anything but straightforward.  If one is going to use a lawyer it is important to use a lawyer who is knowledgeable about charity law and especially important if you plan on conducting activities outside of Canada that the lawyer be familiar with CRA requirements for Canadian charities operating abroad.  Just one little example they cite for denying an application “The application does not include any copy of an agreement with representatives who are supposed to help the organization to carry out its activities outside Canada.”  CRA expects when one files an application that references foreign activities to be carried out under a structured arrangement (agency, joint venture, cooperative partnership, contractor) that in fact the agreement be attached.  This comes as a surprise to some including experienced practitioners.  Also they don’t mean some nice looking agreement - they mean an agreement that complies with ALL the requirements in RC4106.  Some may see this as harsh - however, if an organization takes shortcuts and does not have the resources and advisors to put in an appropriate application for charitable status it is not difficult to imagine that some of those same people may take shortcuts later when the charity is operating.

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


Charity Lawyer 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.
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