According to the CRA here are some common mistakes made by Canadian charities when they complete the T3010.  I have put my comments in brackets and I have added below a few of my favourites omissions or mistakes.

“Avoiding common mistakes when filing the T3010A return Mistakes can cause various problems such as processing delays, missing returns, and incorrect disbursement quota calculations. Below is a list of common mistakes made when filing the T3010A Registered Charity Information Return:

  • the return is mailed to an address other than the Charities Directorate; [ahem.  But how does CRA know?]
  • the return is filed on the wrong form (see Filing the information return);
  • the financial statements are not attached; [Interestingly even if the T3010 has a nil return – a new charity, no activities, no funds received or spent, nothing in the bank they still require the financial statement]
  • the financial statements do not have the same fiscal period ending as the T3010A return;
  • the Registered Charity Basic Information sheet is not attached;
  • fundraising activities instead of charitable activities are described in Section C2;
  • lines 4500 to 4650 do not add up to the amount on line 4700;
  • lines 4800 to 4920 do not add up to the amount on line 4950;
  • there is no entry on line 5000 for charitable program expenditures;
  • lines 5000 to 5040 do not add up to the amount on line 4950;
  • the amount on line 5050 does not agree with the total amount of gifts on Form T1236, Qualified Donees Worksheet;
  • there are entries on lines 5500 to 5520 when the charity has not been granted permission to accumulate funds;
  • there are no entries on lines 5900 and 5910 when required;
  • Section G has been completed when the charity is not a foundation;
  • Director/Trustee dates of birth are missing on Form T1235, Directors/Trustees Worksheet;
  • Directors/Trustees arm’s length status is missing on Form T1235;
  • Directors/Trustees postal codes are missing on Form T1235;
  • Qualified Donees’ BN/Registration numbers are missing on Form T1236;
  • the Certification area in Section H is not signed. “

My favourite errors have to be what people put in the field for operations outside of Canada.  It is supposed to be countries or regions outside of Canada but sometimes you get “Quebec”, Toronto or the name of some missionary in the field etc.  Another little pet peeve is when an operating charity does not fill in the activities or new activities or uses the same description year after year even though their operations have changed.  Keep in mind that with many charities if the description of activities is not filled in and they don’t have a website it may be very hard to know anything about the charity.  Another concern that I will reserve for larger charities occurs when the posted T3010 information is missing a few zeros.  It is either the charity or CRA’s fault that the information is correct but larger charities should check that CRA has the correct information or their T3010 will be misleading and will look wonky.  I don’t expect smaller charities to do much more than file the form and hopefully on time.  In the past these sort of mistakes were not really picked up by anyone.  Now that services exist such as CharityCan that allow users to prepare reports with 5 years T3010 information side by side the mistakes will become more noticeable.  Unfortunately the T3010 numbers are the only available financial information that is collected from all charities and therefore despite the lack of precision of the categories and the reliability of the numbers for some who are moved by or impressed with numbers they have little to go on other than the T3010 figures. 

The CRA list is posted here