There was a recent Globe and Mail article “CRA typo causes a multimillion-dollar mistake for the Hewitt Foundation“. This article is a reminder of the importance of the T3010. It is used by many different groups, not only regulators. This article by Paul Waldie is quite interesting. However, I would point out in this short article a number of important omissions.
First, the report highlights a single mistake on the part of CRA when they keyed in the T3010 information with a mistake of $283 million. It was a mistake by CRA in keying in the information that was quickly fixed. The inaccuracies in my experience, probably over 90% of the time are mistakes made by charities. Also, these mistakes on the part of charities are often never fixed.
So, by focusing in on CRA making a mistake, we’re missing almost the whole story here. I’ll give you an example. There is a large University in Alberta that I think it goes by the name of University of Alberta. Apparently, they have quite a few students. Anyway, they reported annual revenue and expenses of approximately $2 million. As you can appreciate it is hard to run a large university on the $2 million budget. The University of Alberta actually had revenue and expenditures around $2 billion! I am not that great at math, but this is a much larger mistake made by a large charity. They also didn’t make it for one year but for many many years. You can see it on CharityData.ca for yourselves because I know it is hard to believe.
These sorts of mistakes are quite common. Yes, one can in some cases blame it on unpaid volunteers who are being rushed. But often it is extraordinarily well-paid individuals are making these mistakes. Unfortunately, many charities don’t take their T3010 filing seriously. If a publicly listed for-profit company were to make very deficient filings I am sure the consequences would be significant.
It is also a reminder that registered charities should be filing their T3010 form using the CRA’s MyBA system. In that case, there is no manual keying of information by the CRA and it will not result in issues on the CRA keying side. It will also result in the public being more quickly aware of the filing. At certain points in the year, CRA can be backlogged six months when it comes to paper T3010.
It is also a reminder that larger organizations should not just file a T3010 form with CRA, but they should also check that it is received and displayed correctly by CRA. After all, people will see these forms and you want them to have accurate information.
If you want to understand more about the Charities Listing with the T3010 information as well as our CharityData.ca website then this article will be helpful. Also, you might want to review the caveats we put in many articles dealing with data from the T3010 such as our Blumbergs Canadian Charity Sector Snapshot 2021.
If you notice a mistake on a charity filing send the charity a note. Perhaps it will encourage them to follow up with CRA if CRA has made the mistake or more likely consider whether they should put in an adjustment request if the charity has made the mistake.
By Mark Blumberg, Blumbergs Professional Corporation
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