Last updated: June 3, 2014
Of interest to treasurers! Why do we track political activity?
Canadian charities must report the amount spent on political activity on their charitable tax filing (form T3010). That should include a reasonable proportion of staff costs if appropriate. On form T3010, Section C5 asks:
Amount (b) must be entered again on line 5030 reporting income and expenses of the charity. For 2013 onwards, Schedule 7 must also be completed describing the nature and purpose of any political activity.
Congregations should review their activities to see which might be deemed “acceptable political activity” and then develop systems to track how resources are being used to support that activity. The systems need not be complicated but should show a diligent effort to account for expenses, including any allocation of staff time and the associated cost. For T3010 reporting purposes, the amount you calculate will typically be quite small and well within the 10 percent limit. Accordingly, we advise you to round up your estimate of political activity cost by a small amount to allow for anything you may have forgotten.
See The United Church, Political Activity, and Charitable Status for more information.
The federal and Ontario governments are both updating legislation on non-profit corporations. This does NOT impact our congregations in any way. Congregations, presbyteries, and Confernences are NOT incorporated, so this legislation does NOT apply.
The United Church of Canada is federally incorporated by a Special Act of Parliament, so only the General Council Office needs to respond.
Incorporated ministries do need to take action if federally incorporated or incorporated in Ontario. boag [at] united-church [dot] ca (Bev Oag) has been providing briefing materials to those affected (1-800-268-3781, ext. 4094).
The 2014 federal budget didn’t create any new requirements or work for our churches. It did offer a helpful simplification of how estate gifts will be valued in future. It also announced increased funding for audit and compliance activity.
Remember that in a past budget, the CRA will require increased due diligence by charity boards in selecting senior staff, board members, and trustees to ensure “ineligible individuals” are screened out—basically, people with a record of financial dishonesty. Background checks are not required per se, but a more thorough screening process is required. One option may be to have board members sign a declaration of eligibility.
A revised Registered Charity Information Return was announced in 2012 and should be used by charities with fiscal periods ending in 2014. The primary change is the addition of a section for reporting any political activity (schedule 7).
The federal government periodically announces a call for proposals that may be of interest to ministries considering accessibility projects. Full details are available at Employment and Social Development Canada. Small projects that create or enhance accessibility for people with disabilities may receive up to $50,000 from the federal government. At least 25 percent of the total project costs must come from other, non-federal government sources.
Since the window for applying is often quite short, we recommend you put yourself on the notification list as offered on the government webpage.
Recorded webinars can be viewed any time. However, we will continue to offer national webinars for topics of seasonal interest. To watch previously recorded webinars, visit our Congregational Finance video album on Vimeo.
I am hearing from across the country that CRA auditors are getting more concerned with cash payments being given to individuals even for modest sums. Technically a charity shouldn't give money to a non-charity (without demonstrating direction and control of what happens to the money). Modest payments from benevolent funds have not been an issue until now. It is always a good idea to purchase vouchers, or pay actual bills, when administering a benevolent fund.
Learn about the administration of the Clergy Residence Deduction to comply with Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Québec guidelines.
For more information
Mission through Finance
Tel: 416-231-7680 ext. 4022
Toll-free: 1-800-268-3781 ext. 4022
E-mail: emathies [at] united-church [dot] ca (Erik Mathiesen)
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