Staying on the Right Path: Ensuring CRA Compliance for Your NPO or Charity 0

Posted On July 13, 2023, by Jennifer L Nixon

At GBA LLP, we understand that navigating the compliance landscape with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can often feel daunting for non-profit organizations (NPOs) and charities. But don’t fret! When armed with a clear understanding of the regulations and a step-by-step guide, ensuring your organization’s compliance with the CRA is a manageable task.

In this article, we delve into key steps that will help your organization stay aligned with CRA regulations, including the important aspect of disbursement quotas for charities.

1. Maintain Accurate and Up-to-Date Records

Keeping thorough and timely records is not only a smart business practice, but it’s also a requirement under CRA regulations. Your organization’s financial records form the basis of all reporting to the CRA and are crucial to showcasing compliance. Ensure all transactions, receipts, disbursements, and other financial activities are comprehensively documented.

2. File Required Returns on Time

Every charity must file a T3010 (Registered Charity Information Return) annually, while NPOs might need to file a T2 (Corporate Income Tax Return), T3 (Trust Income Tax Return) or T1044 (Non-Profit Organization Information Return), depending on their circumstances. These returns must be accurately filled and submitted by the stipulated deadlines to avoid penalties.

3. Understand and Adhere to the Disbursement Quota

For registered charities, an essential part of compliance involves the ‘disbursement quota.’ This requirement ensures that a minimum amount of the charity’s income is spent directly on its charitable activities or gifted to qualified donees each year. New this year and provided that the charity meets certain requirements, they can also now include certain disbursements to non-qualified donees.

The disbursement quota is vital to ensure that charities use their tax-assisted donations effectively. To remain compliant, your charity must meet this quota, and the calculation of the quota should be accurately reported in the T3010 annual return. With disbursement quota increasing for some specific scenarios, seeking professional advice remains more important than ever.

4. Stay Abreast of Regulatory Changes

Tax laws and CRA regulations are prone to changes, as proven by 2022 Federal Budget measures set to come into effect during 2023. Keeping up-to-date with these changes is key to continued compliance. Consider subscribing to CRA updates, attending related webinars or workshops, or consulting with tax professionals to stay informed about new developments.

5. Regularly Review and Update Governing Documents

Your organization’s bylaws, constitution, or other governing documents should be kept current and accurately reflect your organization’s activities and purposes. Any major changes in activities, directors, or legal status should be promptly reported to the CRA.

6. Seek Professional Advice

The intricacy of tax laws and potential repercussions of non-compliance make it a good practice to seek advice from professionals experienced in charity or NPO law and accounting. They can help you understand your obligations and devise processes for ongoing compliance.

Ensuring CRA compliance might seem like a monumental task, but it is absolutely achievable. By understanding your obligations, maintaining accurate records, filing timely returns, meeting your disbursement quota, staying informed, and seeking professional advice, your organization can confidently steer through its compliance journey.

Remember, at we are always ready to provide support and tailored advice to NPOs and charities. Stay tuned to our educational series for more helpful articles, designed to assist you in managing your non-profit journey effectively.


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This blog is not meant to provide specific advice or opinions regarding the topic(s) discussed above. Should you have a question about your specific situation, please discuss it with your GBA advisor.

GBA LLP is a full-service accounting firm in the Greater Toronto Area, but we primarily service all of Ontario as well as the rest of Canada virtually, except Quebec. Our team of over 30, provides Audits and Reviews of financial statements, and Compilations of financial information, as well as corporate tax returns.  We provide specialized corporate tax and succession planning for small and medium businesses, in addition to general advisory services.

If you would like to schedule a call to discuss your accounting or tax needs with one of our team members, please complete the free no obligation meeting request on this page.

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