Canadian Charity Law

November 13, 2019

Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation is for now a qualified donee in Canada

There is a list called "foreign charities that have received a gift from Her Majesty in right of Canada".  As the name suggests a group that gets a "gift" from the Federal government can apply to CRA to be on the list for a period of 2 years.  Being on the list means that the foreign charity can issue official donation receipts to Canadians and also receive gifts from Canadian charities.  When a Canadian charity provides funds to a foreign group that is listed as a qualified donee under this category there is no need for direction and control.  The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation has been added till February 19, 2021.  Groups that are on the list must be careful to only issue official donation receipts in accordance with the Income Tax Act of Canada. 

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November 13, 2019

CRA terminates some municipalities as qualified donees

I know the title sounds a little harsh but I recently checked a list that the CRA maintains of municipalities that are "qualified donees" or groups that are able to issue official donation receipts and yes CRA has "terminated" some municipalities like the Village of New Norway in Alberta.  Actually a quick Google search brings up "As at Nov. 1, the Village of New Norway ceased to exist as such, and officially becomes part of Camrose County, as the Hamlet of New Norway."  I guess if your municipality disappears then CRA will list it as terminated on their database.

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November 13, 2019

Increase in qualified donee categories

There are a couple of important qualified donee categories that have increased in size - first the "List of municipal or public bodies performing a function of government in Canada registered as qualified donees" which is largely aboriginal bands and secondly, the "List of universities outside Canada registered as qualified donees".  

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November 13, 2019

The CRA has released an updated 2019 version of its T3010 Registered Charity Information Return

The CRA has released recently the 2019 version C of its T3010 Registered Charity Information Return.  The major changes deal with replacing political activities with "public policy dialogue and development activities" (PPDDAs).  As a result of Finance's 2018 changes CRA no longer asks for much information on "public policy dialogue and development activities".  CRA asks whether your charity did PPDDAs and give you a paragraph to describe the PPDDAs and how they relate to your purposes but don't ask how much you spent on them.   So when a billionaire's foundation spends $500 million on this type of political activity - you probably will not be able to easily detect it.  Remember we are all created equal - some are just more equal than others. In fairness to billionaires, it was not billionaires asking for this change - it was mainly a few progressive groups.  

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November 03, 2019

Blumbergs’ Canadian Charity Law Boot Camp 2020

Blumbergs is pleased to announce that we will be hosting Blumbergs' Canadian Charity Law Boot Camp again on Monday April 20, 2020. An easy enough date to remember!   This is a one-day boot camp on compliance and standards issues for Canadian registered charities. You can find out more information and register for the program here. This Boot Camp will cover the differences between for-profits, non-profits and registered charities and why in some cases you may wish to have one or more of each to have maximum impact. It will focus on matters that are significant for any operating charity surrounding revenue generation rules, receipting, transparency, and protecting your charity against risks. Topical issues such as collaboration, foreign activities, political activities, the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (CNCA) and Ontario Non-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) will be touched upon as well.

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October 28, 2019

ON government access to information disclosure on ONCA - so many pages and so little said

Since February 2019 there has not been any update from the Ontario government about ONCA coming into force.  As we have noted before the Ontario government is no longer referring to ONCA coming into force in early 2020.  A few months ago we put in a freedom of information request on ONCA and the computer company developing the new ONBIS system.   We wanted to know why it has taken so long to move ONCA along and when it is likely to come into force.   We just received the answer to my ATIP request and needless to say it does not answer either of the questions with there being some significant redactions.   Here is the FOI response from the Ontario Government on ONCA from the Blumbergs request.  It is interesting and 37 pages in length but does not provide much in terms of why ONCA has been so delayed and when ONCA will come in!

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October 28, 2019

VITREO Brain Trust Philanthropy Podcast on Community Foundations, DAFs and Perpetual Funds

I was recently on a VITREO podcast entitled Episode 31: The Impact of the Community Foundation - How They Have Become Power Players in Philanthropy and What it Means for the Sector.  It dealt with community foundations, donor-advised funds and perpetual gifts.  There was lots of interesting perspectives and vigorous discussion between the 4 guests. 

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October 25, 2019

Miller v. The Queen, 2019 TCC 204 - the Tax Court of Canada sure can be slow

There was a recent Tax Court of Canada ("TCC") case Miller v. The Queen, 2019 TCC 204. It is not an important or exciting case - it deals with a charity tax scheme.  A person buys some multimedia courseware for $7000 then claims that the fair market value is $42,000.   We have seen lots of those types of cases and CRA has been successful in court over denying the deductions.   What is most interesting to me is that the "donation" was in late 2003 and we are now in late 2019.  It has taken this case about 15 years to be heard by the TCC. 

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October 23, 2019

Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) In Canada - an online course by Mark Blumberg

We have recently launched another online course entitled "Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) In Canada: Understanding this important and often misunderstood philanthropic vehicle?  It is 1.5 hours long and covers a number of topics relating to donor advised funds or DAFs.          

October 15, 2019

CRA Sending Out T3010 Reminders

CRA is now sending out reminders to registered charities to file their T3010s on time. This reminders are going out roughly 3 months before the charity's T3010 due date. Here is a redacted copy of the notice.

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October 13, 2019

Blumbergs Canadian Charity Sector Snapshot 2017

We are pleased to launch our Blumbergs Canadian Charity Sector Snapshot 2017  with information on the Canadian registered charity sector for 2017.  2017 is the last year that there is currently full data available.   

October 12, 2019

Some government of Canada material on social enterprise, social innovation and social finance

Here are some documents relating to social finance, social investments and social enterprise that have been requested by various people through the Canadian access to information system from the Canadian Federal Government.  These documents are probably of interest to some who are in the social finance and social enterprise space.

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October 08, 2019

Upcoming Webinars for the Canadian Charity Law Association

The Canadian Charity Law Association is delivering some upcoming webinars. Registration is free but space is limited. Topics are subject to change. 

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October 02, 2019

Is employer contribution to employee crowdfunding a taxable benefit?

There is an interesting letter from CRA dealing with "Whether an employer's contribution to an employee's crowdfunding campaign raising funds to help with additional costs for caring for their child, who was born with XXXXXXXXXX, is a taxable benefit."  The CRA provides an outline of the factors to be considered.  CRA notes that it is ultimately a question of fact - are the funds a "voluntary contributions received by an individual in their personal capacity" and if so they are generally not required to be included in income as opposed to employment income or disguised remuneration.  The employer would also not get to deduct the funds provided to the crowdfunding campaign as a business expense. 

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September 27, 2019

ONCA - does no update mean no ONCA?

I have been asking the Ontario government for months for an update on whether ONCA is coming into force and when.   On September 25, 2019 I received a short note from the Policy and Business Law Unit of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS).  They noted "Thank you for your inquiry to the ministry regarding the Ontario Not-For-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA).  The ministry is working to bring ONCA into force as early as possible."  In January 2019 they noted "The ministry is continuing to work to bring the ONCA into force as early as possible with a target of early 2020".[my emphasis] Note they seem to be omitting the part about targeting early 2020.  I guess we are supposed to read the tea leaves - does that mean that it will be coming in early 2020, some other time or not coming in at all.  Your guess is as good as anyone.   

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September 22, 2019

Blumbergs’ Canadian Charity Law Institute 2019

Join us on Monday October 7, 2019 in Toronto for the 8th Annual Blumbergs' Canadian Charity Law Institute. We will be featuring a number of speakers covering different legal and compliance issues affecting Canadian charities and non-profits.  It will be a full day packed with practical legal and ethical compliance information geared toward charities, professional advisors and those interested in regulatory issues affecting charities and the non-profit sector. Space is limited. Here is the agenda.  

The price is $275 for the day. It includes breakfast, lunch, breaks, coffee and drinks, HST and handouts. For more information (including the agenda) or to register here is a link to the Blumbergs' Canadian Charity Law Institute 2019.

September 21, 2019

CRA announces that it will still accept paper charity applications until September 30, 2019

CRA is encouraging non-profits that want to apply to become registered charities to use their new CHAMP system for the application process.   They recently made an announcement that they will still however accept paper applications using the old Form T2050 until September 30, 2019.   It is not clear whether they will not accept paper applications after that date or if they really want you to use CHAMP but they will accept a newer paper form called the T1789 (E) 19 for those who cannot access the CHAMP system.  We will see.  No doubt it is better for CRA and obtaining a timely response from CRA to use the online system but in light of the current challenges that some are having with that system they may still for a while continue to accept paper applications even if it slows down the process. We have been using a mix of online and paper applications depending on the client and whether they can authorize our firm to access their RR number on CHAMP.

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September 14, 2019

Just launched our 3rd online course “Fundraising from Canada: A course for groups outside of Canada”

We have just launched our 3rd online course - this one is entitled "Fundraising from Canada: A course for groups outside of Canada".   It is geared towards those outside of Canada thinking about fundraising in Canada and the options for structures that will assist including establishing a Canadian registered charity.   

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September 05, 2019

When will ONCA come into force and when will we find out more information?

Many people in Ontario are wondering what the status of ONCA is.  I just wrote this email to MGCS and look forward to hearing more and sharing it with the sector. 

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September 02, 2019

Elections Canada updates guide on political financing and third party registration

Elections Canada in late August 2019 updated their guide Political Financing Handbook for Third Parties Financial Agents and Auditors, which updates the last version of the guide which was published in June 2019.

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August 29, 2019

Tyee opinion piece “Why Environmental Groups’ Attack on Elections Canada Is Wrong, and Dangerous”

The Tyee, an online magazine, recently posted an opinion piece by Tom McMahon entitled "Why Environmental Groups’ Attack on Elections Canada Is Wrong, and Dangerous".  It is a very thoughtful piece from an individual who has a good understanding of electoral regulation.  It cautions that the attack on Elections Canada was wrong and dangerous and that we must be careful what we ask for.  It discusses changes in the US that led to a less than desirable political situation south of the border and he asks some environmentalists to "consider the dangerous door they are opening".

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August 29, 2019

CANADALAND Podcast on charities, political activities and the upcoming Federal election

CANADALAND recently had a podcast which dealt with a number of topics but one of them was charities, political activities, Elections Canada and the upcoming Federal election. The podcast was called "#227 Scandal? What Scandal?". In the podcast Jesse Brown is joined by Sandy Garossino, a former Crown prosecutor and columnist for the National Observer.  The discussion on charities and political activities takes place around 25:08 minutes in.

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August 29, 2019

Fundamentals of Running a Private or Public Foundation in Canada

Private and Public Foundations are an important part of the Canadian charity sector.  The Blumbergs' Fundamentals of Running a Private or Public Foundation in Canada will focus on compliance issues with an emphasis on those specifically relevant to running a private or public foundation that is a registered charity in Canada.  While some foundations give out a small amount each year – others are giving hundreds of millions.  Large gifts might have been $10-20 million a few years ago but are now $100 million and over. On September 17, 2019, we will be hosting a full-day event on public and private foundations. Register here

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August 27, 2019

Question to CRA on alter ego trusts and whether transfers are a donation

STEP Canada had a CRA Roundtable on June 6-7, 2019 and they discussed a number of topics.   One issue of interest to charities and philanthropists is Question 2 dealing with alter ego trusts and donations.   Essentially CRA takes the position that if an alter ego trust is required to distribute its funds to a charity then such funds are not a charitable donation and not entitled to an official donation receipt.   If on the other hand the trustees have discretion and there is donative intent then it could be a charitable contribution. 

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August 20, 2019

Misinformation about NPOs/charities and political activities during the election is spreading

There has been a lot of media and social media coverage over the last few days about non-profits and charities and the rules around their involvement in the upcoming election.  To my dismay, much of it has been inaccurate.  While I am quite used to misinformation on the obligations of charities what is most interesting is the way in which "serious" media organizations such as CBC apparently made no attempt to actually check what the rules are and have put forward ridiculous ideas such 'if a charity registers as a third party with Elections Canada they could lose their charitable status'. As well while there are some new rules in the Canada Elections Act the main rules dealing with third party registration during an election have been around for decades.   

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

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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.

mark@blumbergs.ca
416.361.1982
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