GOOGLE AND CRA QUESTION AND ANSWER
by: C. Yvonne Chenier, Q.C.
Q: What do Google and the CRA Charities Directorate have in common?
A: They both have “quick view”.
In the case of Google, quick view is a snapshot of actual pages that could be downloaded. In the case of the CRA Charities Directorate it a filtered and one might say distorted view of pages they have on file. It is a view (in full colour pie chart form ) of what CRA considers someone looking for information about a charity would be most interested in i.e. how and where it gets its revenue, how it spends it and how much is going to the big salaries and consulting fees.
So now with the CRA, just like with Google, there is no need to download and analyse a full document when looking for information. A picture has already been taken (or painted in the case of the CRA) for you. Check it out by searching your favourite charities at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html and clicking on the T3010 link for recent returns filed. This will make comparing charities very interesting for sure. The media will no doubt have a field day.
So Charities be warned. As many mothers would say, don’t do anything that you don’t want to see on the front page of the National Newspaper. This applies to charities that have no choice but to place their information on a public website for all to manipulate. Remember the “garbage in garbage out” theory. In this case all charities should go on line now and view the Quick View of their information that is being presented. Check the following:
1. Is the information on Quick View an accurate reflection of the charity’s revenue sources and expenditure categories?
2. If it is not then review the relevant T3010 forms that have been signed by someone in the organization and submitted to the CRA Charities directorate as this is where the information comes from.
3. If the information submitted is not correct then Charities can ask the CRA to correct errors in a previously submitted T3010 return by completing form T1240 Registered Charity Adjustment
4. Take steps to ensure that all future T3010 forms that are submitted are put through your own quick view filter before they are sent in. In other words, someone should look at it very carefully!
In other words, someone should look at the public display of information very carefully! An overall caution is to make sure that all sources of information about a Charity should be accurate and consistent. Whether it is on Quick View, a Charity`s own Website, a printed annual report or a blog, twitter, Facebook or any new social media place yet to be invented, the information should be the same.