The Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) announced on September 20, 2012, that it has completed its Joint Action Plan as part of CRA’s Small and Rural Charities Initiative. This Initiative, which began in 2007, involved a government consultation with small and rural charities to better understand the unique compliance challenges they face. The findings were reviewed by a panel composed primarily of individuals from small and rural charities in Canada. The panel then worked with CRA to develop a joint action plan to address some the challenges facing small and rural charities.

The joint action plan was set out in the 2008 Report on Small and Rural Charities prepared by the Small and Rural Charities Panel and included 66 recommendations to the Charities Directorate on how it could improve its service to these organizations. These recommendations for action are intended to target the unique compliance challenges that confront smaller charities, which must frequently rely on the services of volunteers with limited expertise or time, and rural charities, which have more limited access to resources and personnel.

CRA has released a chart setting out the recommendations received under the Joint Action Plan and its progress in implementing each recommendation. The recommendations range from better training of CRA staff to respond to questions from charities, the publication of more resources to assist charities in understanding their obligations, improvements to the CRA website, and attempts to simplify the T3010 returns for smaller charities.

As a result of these recommendations, CRA has published a number of resources that are of particular value to charities that may have limited access to legal and accounting expertise on their ongoing compliance obligations. These resources include:

Charities, and particularly those charities that may have limited access to compliance advice and expertise, should familiarize themselves with these resources. Charities face a range of complex compliance obligations, and small charities will always face unique difficulties in keeping up with these requirements. The resources available on CRA’s website, and particularly those listed above, can help charities to avoid some of the most common compliance errors.