The 2019 Canadian Federal Budget: What It Means For Charities
Mike Duerksen, Government Relations Chair

Yesterday, Finance Minister Morneau delivered the 2019 Federal Budget — and many of us in the charitable sector watched closely for key changes we were hoping for.

If you were expecting new tax incentives, more funding to gather and disseminate data on the charitable sector in Canada and greater transparency, you won’t find it here.

That’s not surprising.

The Liberals had already announced some new initiatives related to the charities in the Fall Economic Update in November of last year. They included:

  • a permanent Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector to provide advice to the Government on important issues facing charities.
  • a Social Finance Fund to help close the finance gap faced by organizations that deliver positive social outcomes.  
  • changes to the restrictions on political activities a charity can carry out.
  • the announcement of an eventual new category of qualified donee for nonprofit journalism organizations.

The highlight in yesterday’s budget as it relates to the charitable sector is that the new qualified donee category for journalism will indeed be introduced.

By gaining qualified donee status, nonprofit journalism organizations will have an easier time fundraising to achieve their mission by being able to issue donation receipts.

With the journalism industry grappling to find new funding models, the government essentially had two choices — change the definition of a charity to include media organizations or create a separate category for them.

By creating a new category, nonprofit journalism organizations gain more flexibility in finding funding. And the government gains more flexibility by being able to tweak the regulations around the new category rather than having to mess with the laws that govern all charities in Canada.

One of the key priorities of AFP when meeting with MPs is the elimination of the capital gains tax on donations of private shares and property. It’s a pivotal change that could unlock up to $225 million of incremental funding from the private sector.

Unfortunately, the 2019 Budget did not include any updates to tax incentives. Nor did it allocate any money to Statistics Canada to collect and analyze comprehensive data about the sector — another AFP priority.

Minor changes included a tweaking of the culture property regime and some financial support for specific individual charities.

Overall, there are no surprises — and, unless you’re a nonprofit media organization, nothing much of consequence.

With an election between now and the next federal budget, it will be interesting to see what changes might still be to come.

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