A friendly visit from the CRA? About the new Charities Education Program

December 18th, 2017 by Elliot Fonarev

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has launched a program to conduct in‑person visits to 500 registered charities each year to provide information and advice on their obligations under the Income Tax Act. The Charities Education Program (CEP) is designed to help charities avoid common errors and identify potential issues before it files its next information return.

Your charity may be selected by the CRA if it is newly registered, based on information from the charity’s information return (Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return), or if the charity has not complied in common areas such as receipting and reporting. All charities are eligible for a CEP visit. The CRA is also considering creating an ‘on‑demand’ service in the future for charities that wish to request a CEP visit, however currently charities are not able to request a visit.

The CRA has said that unlike an audit, the CEP visit aims to provide charities with information on compliance with their charitable obligations and to answer their questions. A charity that receives a CEP visit may be audited in the future. Yet, the program will be run by auditors. We hope that the relationship between CEP visits and the audit program, if any, will become clearer once the program is up and running.

The CRA has said that each CEP visit will consist of three parts.

  1. A Charity Education Officer will visit the charity to ask questions about its books and records and its purposes and activities, and also provide information on the obligations of registration, filing information returns, and issuing official donation receipts.
  2. The Officer will then review the charity’s books and records and give feedback on their accuracy and completeness. The purpose of this review is to identify any issues that could prevent the charity from meeting its charitable obligations and avoid unintentional or recurring errors.
  3. The Officer will provide the charity with a Summary of Findings and Recommendations. A signing officer will be asked to sign the document confirming they understand their responsibilities and have received information to help them comply with their regulatory obligations.

If your charity is selected, you will receive a letter from the CRA giving you information about your point of contact and the visit. We would be glad to assist your charity with preparing for a visit, as well as helping your charity understand the Summary of Findings and Recommendations received at the end of the visit.

Filed in: Charities

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