Top court rules Humane Society to lose charitable status

The loss of status and donations will hardest on the animals the society helps protect and defend.
The loss of status and donations will hardest on the animals the society helps protect and defend. iStock.

One bad organizational decision can lead to serious consequences, as the Humane Society of Canada just found out.

The Supreme Court will not hear the Humane Society’s appeal in a case in which the Ministry of National Revenue took away their status as a charitable organization.

The ministry found that the society had misspent funds and “not devoted all of its resources to charitable activities for which it was formed.”

High on the list of questionable spending was approximately $70,000 worth of expenses for which the past and current director of the society, Michael O’Sullivan, was apparently reimbursed:

  • Meal expenses;
  • Comic books;
  • LCBO purchases;
  • Groceries;
  • Entertainment tickets for events in the U.S. and U.K; and
  • Expenses O’Sullivan incurred when he went to Disneyland with his family.

The society admitted that a small percentage of the expenses were “mischaracterized as expenses” to O’Sullivan but argued revoking their status went too far, especially as expenses have been repaid.

After losing their appeal to have the revocation overturned, the society’s last hope was an appeal to the Supreme Court but that hope has now been quashed.

That means the ministry will likely take away their charitable status and the society will no longer be able to issue tax receipts to donors.

Not having charitable status for tax purposes is problematic to any charity, because people will be less inclined to give and it’s likely the society will see a drop in donations.

Unfortunately, the loss of status and donations will hardest on the animals the society helps protect and defend.

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