Charity watchdog loses charitable status due to 'administrative oversight'

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TORONTO - A national charity watchdog on Monday blamed its failure to file timely financial statements that prompted Canada Revenue Agency to revoke its charitable status on a simple oversight.

Charity Intelligence Canada, which analyzes how effective Canadian charities are, also said it was working with the government in an effort to be reinstated as a registered charity.

"It was just an administrative oversight — it was just a late filing," said Bri Trypuc, head of donor advisory services. "It's unfortunate."

At issue was the organization's filing of its audited financial statements for 2011 year, which weren't filed within six months of the group's fiscal year end as required by law.

Canada Revenue Agency formally revoked the group's registration Sept. 15 due to "failure to file."

Trypuc said getting the information on its financials to the revenue agency within the time frame "just got overlooked."

The statements are now available on the group's website but have yet to be posted to the government's website.

"We've already worked on our side to address the issue immediately with all the appropriate materials," Trypuc said.

"So, it's just a waiting game with the CRA."

Registered charities are required to file such information with the taxman to prove eligibility for registration.

A registered charity is able, among other things, to issue tax receipts to donors, making it potentially a more attractive option for donors than non-registered ones. It is also exempt from income tax.

Charity Intelligence, which monitors Canada's 100 biggest charities and puts out a list of its top picks, aims to help people make informed decisions when it comes to making donations.

Its website looks at how much money charities take in and how much they spend on program costs and fundraising.

According to its financial figures, the largely volunteer-based group took in $326,000 in its 2011 fiscal year in donations from individuals and foundations, down sharply from the $584,000 it took in a year earlier.

It donated $141,000 to charities — $39,500 of which were designated donations from donors.

Overall, the statements show Charity Intelligence Canada spent $283,00 — slightly more than its net revenue — including $113,000 in wages and benefits.

According to its website, the organization began "out of frustration" in 2006 with the lack of "high quality, evidence-based research" to guide donation decisions.

The Toronto-based organization compares itself to a financial analyst who researches potential stocks to find the best investment opportunities.

Last year, it identified 33 "outstanding" charities.

Organizations: Canada Revenue Agency, Charity Intelligence Canada

Geographic location: TORONTO, Canada

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