CRA adds interesting feature to website A-Z index of topics

April 14, 2018 | By: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Mark Blumberg
Topics: What's New from the Charities Directorate of CRA, Canadian Charity Law

The Charities Directorate of the CRA appears to be making further changes to their website.   It moved in 2017 to the main Canada.ca Federal government website. Now I noticed their A-Z index of topics is now searchable.  I think this new functionality is very helpful. I had commented on how helpful this list is in the past and having it be searchable is even more helpful.  Hopefully, CRA will continue working on the searchable list to make it more relevant and easier for people to find information.

For example, if you type in "abuse" in the index you get Topic is "Checklist for charities on avoiding terrorist abuse" and the keywords are "foreign, terrorism".  Not to be too critical but there are many forms of abuse and terrorism is only one of them. Think residential schools, embezzlement, 'abusive charity gifting tax schemes', etc. Also while terrorism can relate to "foreign" it can also relate to Canada (Air India, Quebec City, etc).  

In 2016 I wrote "CRA has had an alphabetical index of all policies and guidance relating to charities.  This is a very helpful tool for charities wanting to see if CRA has a position on a particular issue.  The only problem with the list is that for a lay person they often do not know which guidance is related to the issue at hand and sometimes useful information is hidden in the appendix of a guidance.   Some of the material is also dated or picayune and not of much relevance to charities just wanting to operate with the legal requirements of the Income Tax Act."

If you search the word "allocation" nothing comes up.  It is important that charities allocate expenses when they are completing their T3010 filing - for example, a staff person may spend 70 percent of their time on fundraising, 20 percent on charitable and 10 percent on administration.   Schedule B to the Fundraising Guidance has that information.  But being a schedule to a guidance makes it quite hidden.  Perhaps they could add a keyword 'allocation' to the list.  

Now that the searchable functionality is in place hopefully more topics and keywords will be added to this already helpful list.  

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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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