Here is the CRA’s Annual Report to Parliament for 2010-2011.  It is 173 pages long.  There are a number of references to charities which I have reproduced below.

“ADMINISTERING TAX
The taxes that the CRA levies and the credits it administers are primarily set out in the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act. We also administer specialty legislation relating to the Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance and softwood lumber.  We undertake many non-tax activities, as well, including those related to charities, tobacco, registered plans, and non-tax collections.”

There are references in the strategic framework to charities on pg. 17. 

“Making sure that individuals, businesses and charities can reach us when they need assistance helps to foster trust in the tax system and compliance with tax laws. In 2010-2011, we met our caller accessibility targets of 90% for general and business enquires, despite a more than 7% increase in call demand on the business lines. This increase was largely due to enquiries related to the implementation of the Harmonized Sales Tax in Ontario and British Columbia as well as changes in mandatory electronic filing for GST/HST registrants. We also exceeded the 90% caller accessibility target for answering tier 1 charities enquiries.”

“CHARITIES
In 2010-2011, we continued to provide timely telephone and written responses to the charitable sector through our registration application processes, our call centres, and our written enquiries process. We also improved our outreach
activities to ensure registered charities have access to the information they need to meet their legal obligations to comply with the Income Tax Act. We offered 75 Charities Information Sessions to registered charities across Canada, with 96% of participants indicating they were satisfied or very satisfied with the sessions. We also delivered 17 webinars (a limited interactive environment in which dialogue can occur between participants and CRA representatives) to 2,164 individuals. When surveyed, 91% of participants indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied. The client satisfaction survey scheduled to be completed in 2010-2011 has been postponed to 2011-2012.  We continue our work on the Small and Rural Charities Initiative. Only two of the 58 recommendations have not been completed and are scheduled for completion in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.  We also enhanced the functionality of the Charities and Giving Web site by updating search tips, download instructions, links to definitions, and providing the latest available web and e-mail addresses of registered charities. There were over 1,700,000 visits to the Charities and Giving Web site, an increase of 14% over 2009-2010.”

“The number of taxpayers participating in gifting tax shelter arrangements showed a notable decline over the past five years; six registered charities were revoked for participating in such schemes; and, for the first time, a Third Party Penalty was assessed on a charity;”

“CHARITIES
Registered charities in Canada are tax-exempt and can issue charitable donation receipts to donors. To maintain these privileges, registered charities must operate within the parameters of the Income Tax Act. In cases of serious
non-compliance, contraventions can result in the revocation of the registered charitable status of the organizations involved. The overall level of compliance by registered charities with the requirements of the Income Tax Act is
determined based on an analysis of the results of random audits conducted annually. For the past three years, audit results show that the overall level of compliance has been stable and confirm that the vast majority of registered
charities are complying with legal requirements. While some charities required education on mostly minor compliance issues, very few serious issues of non-compliance were noted. For the third consecutive year, less than 4% of random audits resulted in a revocation action against a charity. In 2009 (the last year of complete data), 99% of registered charities filed an annual information return; of these, 61% of registered charities filed within the required six months of fiscal year end, with the remaining 38% having been filed late. Based on returns filed to date, we anticipate a similar filing rate for 2010.”

“INITIATIVE – IMPROVE THE DETECTION AND DETERRENCE OF NON-COMPLIANCE IN OUR
CHARITIES PROGRAM

Identify and audit all known charities participating in tax shelter arrangements   – In progress
Continue the false receipting pilot project – Completed
Identify and audit all charities suspected of being involved in false receipting – In progress
Target outreach and education to issues related to serious non-compliance schemes through Webinars, newsletters, awareness campaigns, etc. – Completed
Implement a tool set for CRA employees to deliver CRA’s mandate under the Charities Registration (Security Information) Act – In progress”

On page 84 there is discussion of service standards by CRA relating to charities including “responding to telephone enquiries … Our goal is to respond to calls in agent queue within two minutes.”
and “responding to applications for charitable registrations a) simple applications b) regular applications … Our goal is to review and respond to applications for charitable registration upon receipt of a complete application within
established standards.”  [Review and respond to simple applications within 2 months.  Review and respond to regular applications within 6 months]

Here is an interesting new standard CRA is proposing:

“Charities – The goal is to respond to written enquiries within established standards.  Routine enquiries – within 45 days of receipt; complex enquiries – within 75 days of receipt   – 80%”

There is discussion on page 92 of applications for registered charity status and a graph:

“Charities – Responding to applications for charitable registrations
In addition to assigning additional staff to this program, various process improvements were implemented such as streamlining work, standardizing file approach, and utilizing the workflow tracking system to its fullest capacity. These
process improvements enabled the program to meet and surpass the new service targets. We expect performance levels to be closer to the targets in 2011-2012.”

For the full report see CRA’s Annual Report to Parliament for 2010-2011:

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/gncy/nnnl/2010-2011/prfrmnc-e/rc4425-11-eng.pdf