BROOKFIELD – The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department is no longer under an imminent threat of having its assets seized by Revenue Canada.
“All the papers have been submitted for renewal (of the department’s charitable status),” chief Rod Nielsen said, regarding a deadline he had been facing from Revenue Canada to pay a $500,000 fine by March 21 or face legal action. “That stopped proceedings, so the threat of collection has ceased, pending the outcome of the reapplication.”
Fire departments do not technically fit Revenue Canada’s model as charitable organizations because they put their money into equipment and training instead of giving 80 per cent of it away.
Brookfield’s problem arose when, in the view of Revenue Canada, the department let its charitable status lapse in 2008, after it accidently neglected to file the proper papers because its treasurer was ill.
But Nielsen said now that the papers have been submitted, which the department had been in the process of doing, he has been assured by Revenue Canada there should be no further problems as long as the paper work is kept up to date.
“And at the end of the process (which he said will take nine to 12 months to complete) they’re pretty well saying, if there are no problems you’ll be reinstated.”
“It probably shouldn’t have been a charity in the first place but there is no way to get out of it,” he said, because there is no “exit” plan in place to do so.
The story about the problem was published in the March 11 edition of the Truro Daily News, as well as its online version, and after it “went viral,”
Nielsen said, he heard from numerous other fire departments that are facing a similar situation.
“So we’re not the only one. I received calls from all across Canada saying we’re not the only one.”
Nielsen said he has been working with area MP Scott Armstrong’s office on the issue and the federal caucus is lobbying Ottawa to try to find a way to prevent a similar occurrence with other organizations in the future.