In what appears to be a first, Canada’s national charity regulator has admitted that it made a mistake in approving the registration of a Toronto charity.
One result of that mistake? Most of the $56.5 million donated over a recent two-year period went into a bogus tax shelter scheme, rather than funding charitable projects.
Yesterday, the Canada Revenue Agency “annulled” the 1973 registration of the Toronto-based Phoenix Community Works Foundation, both because it should not have been registered and because it was not operating in an “exclusively charitable manner.”
Phoenix’s executive director Larry Rooney said his group is disappointed but will try to continue on as a non-profit group. It will no longer be able to raise money as a charity, or issue tax receipts to donors.
As to what the charity did with the millions that passed through its accounting ledgers, Rooney said he was not at liberty to say what Phoenix used to do.
“Well, we do a lot of things. Such as education programs,” said Rooney, before asking the Toronto Star to send a copy of the charity regulator’s statement about his group. Rooney said he could not say anything more about his predicament for now.
This is the latest in a series of charities that have lost their status as a philanthropic group due to participation in tax shelter schemes.