A Complete Guide to Annual Returns for Alberta Nonprofits

non profit annual review

As a nonprofit organization in Alberta, it’s important to stay compliant with regulatory requirements, one of the most important being the annual return filing. Annual returns ensure that your organization remains in good standing with government authorities and maintains transparency with stakeholders. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the essentials of annual returns for Alberta nonprofits, why they are necessary, the step-by-step process to file them, and how a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) can provide valuable assistance. Whether you’re new to nonprofit management or looking for a refresher, this guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to keep your organization compliant and thriving.

What Are Annual Returns?

Annual returns are mandatory filings that nonprofit organizations in Alberta must submit to the government each year. These documents provide updated information about the organization’s directors, address, and confirm that the organization is still active. The primary purpose of annual returns is to ensure that the government maintains current records of all registered nonprofit entities operating within the province.

Your annual return will include the last audited balance sheet along with the auditor’s report. Having a CPA put together your auditor’s report and balance sheet will ensure that you present up to date and precise information. When filing an annual return, it is essential that all information is complete and accurate so that government bodies can properly evaluate your nonprofit. 

Why Do Nonprofits Need to File Annual Returns?

Filing annual returns is a legal requirement for all registered nonprofits in Alberta. Failure to comply can result in severe consequences, including the dissolution of the organization. Beyond legal compliance, annual returns offer several benefits.

  1. Maintaining Good Standing: Regular filing ensures that the organization remains in good standing with regulatory bodies, allowing it to continue its operations without interruption.
  2. Increased Transparency: Annual returns promote transparency, providing stakeholders, donors, and the public with essential information about the organization’s governance and activities.
  3. Funding Opportunities: Many funding bodies and donors require proof of compliance with annual filing requirements before providing financial support.

How to File an Annual Return for Your Non-Profit

Download the Document for Annual Returns for Alberta Nonprofits

Filing an annual return in Alberta involves several steps. Here’s a detailed guide to help you through the process:

  1. Gather Information:
    • Organization Details: Ensure you have up-to-date information about your organization’s name, address, and contact details.
    • Directors’ Information: Collect the names, addresses, and contact information of all current directors.
    • Stakeholders’ Information: Ensure you have the complete personal information for all your stakeholders.
    • Financial Statements: Prepare the financial statements for the past fiscal year, and ensure that everything is in order.
    • Annual Audit: Alberta nonprofits are required to review their financial statements every year. If you’re a large corporation, it’s a good idea to have an accountant perform your annual audit.
  2. Complete the Annual Return Form:
    • Obtain the annual return form from the Alberta government’s official website or request it by mail. [Download]
    • Fill out the form with accurate and current information. Ensure all sections are completed to avoid delays in processing.
  3. Submit the Form:
    • You can submit the completed form online through the Alberta Corporate Registry’s website, by mail, or in person at a registry office.
    • Pay the required filing fee. Fees can vary, so check the latest fee schedule on the government’s website.
  4. Confirmation:
    • After submission, you will receive a confirmation of receipt. Keep this confirmation for your records.

How a CPA Can Help

Engaging a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) can be immensely beneficial for nonprofits when it comes to filing annual returns. Here’s how a CPA can assist:

  1. Expertise: CPAs have the knowledge and experience to ensure that all financial information is accurate and complies with regulatory requirements. As Alberta nonprofits are required to have their finances audited either by a CPA or an internal audit from two Board members, it’s a good idea to have a professional accountant who knows the ins and outs of corporate accounting perform your review. Having a CPA perform the audit guarantees a far more thorough review!
  2. Efficiency: By handling the annual return process, a CPA can save your organization time and effort, allowing you to focus on your mission and activities. CPAs are well equipped to handle these processes and ensure that not only is the information accurate, but it’s completed in a timely manner.
  3. Compliance: CPAs stay updated with changes in regulations and filing requirements, ensuring that your organization remains compliant and avoids potential penalties. If you’re unsure about what information is required or what the process is for filing an annual return, a professional accountant will guide you through the steps and ensure that you’re not missing anything.
  4. Financial Health: Beyond filing annual returns, a CPA can provide valuable insights into your organization’s financial health, offering advice on budgeting, financial planning, and fundraising strategies. Engaging a CPA will set you up for success in the future, ensuring that you’re using your budget wisely and making the most amount of impact with your organization.

Work with Gallo LLP

Annual returns are a crucial aspect of maintaining a nonprofit organization’s good standing and transparency in Alberta. By understanding the filing process and leveraging the expertise of a CPA, nonprofits can ensure they meet their legal obligations and continue to thrive in their mission-driven work.

If you are looking for a trusted partner who will bring your nonprofit to the next level, work with Gallo LLP. Our team of CPAs will work with you to perform your annual reviews and give you feedback on how to move forward with your organization. We’ll offer financial advice, professional accounting services, and a helping hand as you get ready for your next fiscal year.

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