Protecting the money you give to charity

Most of the approximately 85,000 charities registered in Canada abide by the tax laws. When non-compliance is suspected based on public complaints or the information provided on annual information returns, the CRA undertakes an audit. Last year, 810 charities were selected for audit, and as a result, the CRA revoked the charitable status of 40 organizations for serious infractions of the law. Many additional charities also lost their charitable status for failure to file their annual return.

When charitable status is revoked, an organization can no longer issue official tax receipts for the donations it receives and is no longer a qualified donee under the Income Tax Act. The organization is no longer exempt from income tax, unless it qualifies as a non-profit organization, and it may be subject to a tax equal to the full value of its remaining assets.

The CRA publishes the names of charities that lose their charitable status on its Web site, so that potential donors are aware that the charities can no longer issue tax receipts. The notice of intent to revoke and other letters relating to the grounds for revocation are available to the public on request by calling 1-800-267-2384.

The CRA Charities Listings, available at www.cra.gc.ca/donors allows donors to search for any charity to view its annual information returns and verify that the charity they wish to donate to is registered. Visitors to the site can also find information on how the CRA regulates charities and tips for donating wisely.

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