Potential Trust Filing Changes for Charities and NPOs with “Express Trusts”

Potential Trust Filing Changes for Charities and NPOs with “Express Trusts”: Registered charities and non-profit organizations (NPOs) may need to file a T3 form for each of their internal “express trusts” beginning in 2024; however, we are still waiting for confirmation from CRA and the Department of Finance on this issue.

  • Charities and NPOs have been exempt from having to file a T3 for their organization; the requirement being that they file a T3010 (charities) or T2 and/or T1044 (NPOs) in which they report the assets of any express trusts they have.
  • An express trust generally exists if a charity or NPO holds donated funds or property that are subject to restrictions, even if there is no formal trust agreement. Examples of express trusts are donor advised funds, perpetual endowments, and long-term special-purpose funds.
  • If CRA enforces these new trust filing obligations for express trusts, charities and NPOs will need to file a separate T3 return for each express trust that the charity or NPO has established internally starting with the December 31 tax year end (even if the charity or NPO has a different financial year end).
  • There may be exemptions, for example, for trusts holding less than $50,000 in assets for the tax year.


Key takeaways:

  • It is not yet certain whether CRA will require charities and NPOs to file a T3 for each internal express trust or maintain their traditional position that these organizations are exempt.
  • Some organizations don’t have accurate or up-to-date lists of their restricted funds; and whether an express trust exists can be a complicated legal question. Charities and NPOs should consider consulting with a lawyer to identify them in anticipation of the possible new reporting requirements and to ensure that they are managing the express trusts in accordance with the restrictions to which they agreed.