The Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of National Revenue, announced today contribution funding for seven new projects dealing with fundraising, transparency and false receipting under the Charities Partnership and Outreach Program (CPOP) of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). One of the registered charities that received funding was the Ontario Community Support Association and its Charity Law Information Program (CLIP). I have been involved with CLIP programs since last year and you can find out more about CLIP at http://www.capacitybuilders.ca/clip/clip.php including some archived webinars that I did in the last year.
If you are trying to understand how accountability, transparency and evaluation apply to your Canadian charity this document from One World Trust entitled Pathways to Accountability: A short guide to the GAP Framework may be very helpful.
This seminar in Kitchener looks very interesting and I will hopefully be able to make it. It is of the International Committee on Fundraising Organizations (ICFO).
Here is an article by Andy Levy-Ajzenkopf in CharityVillage on Bill C-470 http://www.charityvillage.com/cv/archive/acov/acov10/acov1012.asp
The Income Tax Act (Canada) sets tremendous limits on the ability of CRA to disclose information about Canadian charities. Essentially, the Income Tax Act in section 241 and its confidentiality provisions forbid CRA from disclosing any information about any registered charities either through informal request or a formal access-to-information request unless the information falls within certain narrow exceptions. I will note below the provisions but I think that CRA should have greater flexibility to be able, especially in the few cases of major charity scams or tax avoidance schemes, to warn Canadians about any concerns that CRA has. Unless a charity consents to disclosure (not likely), CRA now can only provide, after the charity has lost its registered status, either its “entirety of or any part of any letter sent by or on behalf of the Minister to the charity relating to the grounds for the revocation or annulment”. By the time the charity has lost its registered charity status it could be years after CRA had significant concerns about the charity.
Here is an interesting report from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on COMBATING THE ABUSE OF NON-PROFIT ORGANISATIONS International Best Practices from 2002. It highlights the importance of transparency in non-profit sectors and financial management in thwarting abuse of charities.
I am so excited and it is not that I am going away on vacation today for a week. The new T3010B Registered Charity Information Return, which is filed by Canadian charities for fiscal year ends beginning January 1, 2009 are now available online. Until yesterday it was only the T3010A (the old registered charity information return) that was available. There is a lot of additional information in the T3010 that is really exciting and provides stakeholders in the charity sector greater information on the individual charities and by aggregation the whole sector.
Here is an OP ED piece by the finance director of Oxfam UK. There is also a response from the UK TaxPayers’ Alliance in the comments section.
Here is a copy of the Annotated T3010B http://www.capacitybuilders.ca/clip/clip-resources.php from CLIP. It will be updated periodically to include different information from different sources.
I recently read a short article by Adam Rothwell of Intelligent Giving in the UK. He argues that UK charities are not very transparent. I am not sure that the situation is any different here in Canada.
The CRA has just published a sample: T3010B, Registered Charity Information Return, with accompanying forms and financial statements. This will be very helpful to charities as the T3010B is a new form.
If you are looking for a sample financial statement for a Canadian charity CRA has just published one of their website. Every Canadian charity in addition to filing the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return needs to file with that return a financial statement.
CRA just advised that certain T3010 forms on their Charities and Giving Web site, have been improved so that they are now saveable in addition to being fillable. By downloading the fillable/saveable PDF version of the form charities can save their work as they go, print the completed form and mail it to the Charities Directorate.
Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?
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.