Designation and registration as a National Arts Service Organization

From: Canadian Heritage

Arts organizations may apply to the Department of Canadian Heritage to be designated as a National Arts Service Organization (NASO), and in turn, be considered by the Canada Revenue Agency for registration under the Income Tax Act.

Designation by Canadian Heritage is recognition that your organization is considered a NASO by the Government of Canada.

Registration by the Canada Revenue Agency adds to the designation by allowing your organization to issue official receipts for gifts or donations received with the same benefits as registered charitable organizations. This in turn, provides the donor with a tax credit – in the case of an individual – or a reduction of taxable income – in the case of a corporate donor.

Registration also exempts your organization from paying income tax under Part I of the Income Tax Act. Registered NASOs must fulfil a number of obligations under the Income Tax Act which are outlined in this web page.

Who can apply

To be eligible for designation by Canadian Heritage, your organization must:

  • be a non-profit organization whose purpose is the promotion of the arts on a nation-wide basis through activities such as:
    • sponsoring arts exhibitions or performances
    • conducting workshops and development programs related to the arts
    • organizing and sponsoring conferences, competitions and special arts events
  • demonstrate that it represents, in one or both official languages of Canada, the community of artists in one or more recognized sectors of the arts

To be eligible for registration by the Canada Revenue Agency, your organization must meet all other criteria applicable to registered charitable organizations.

Application deadline

There is no application deadline. Applications are received on an ongoing basis.

How to apply

Organizations need to apply only to Canadian Heritage. Once your organization qualifies for designation as a NASO, we will inform you and forward the necessary documentation to the Canada Revenue Agency for consideration.

The Canada Revenue Agency will inform you whether or not your organization meets the criteria for registration.

Refusal of designation and registration

Should your organization not appear to qualify for either designation or registration as a NASO, the relevant department will send you a letter explaining why. Your organization has 60 days from the date of the letter to make further submissions before a final decision is made.

A refusal by Canadian Heritage to designate your organization as a NASO is not subject to appeal under the Income Tax Act. However, your organization could invoke "judicial review."

In the case where your organization receives its designation from Canadian Heritage, but the Canada Revenue Agency decides not to register it, you may appeal the refusal to register by filing a Notice to Appeal with the Federal Court of Appeal.

Registration as a charity or National Arts Service Organization

An organization cannot be registered as both a charity and a registered NASO at the same time. Organizations currently registered as charities who wish to become registered NASOs must apply to Canadian Heritage for designation.

You must include with your application form a letter addressed to the Canada Revenue Agency requesting voluntary revocation of your organization's charitable status should it meet the requirements of a registered NASO.

If your organization has received its designation from Canadian Heritage, and meets the criteria for registered NASO status, the Canada Revenue Agency will revoke its charitable status and at the same time, register it as a registered NASO.

Revocation of designation and/or registration

Designation and/or registration can be revoked. If it appears that there are grounds for taking such action, the relevant department will send you a letter explaining why it appears that your organization's designation or registration may be revoked, and you will have 60 days from the date of the letter to make submissions.

If you do not respond or fail to satisfy the relevant department's concerns within that period, you will be informed by registered mail of the department's final decision and the reasons why the designation or registration is being revoked.

If the Department of Canadian Heritage decides to revoke an organization's designation, such a decision is not subject to appeal under the Income Tax Act. However, an organization could resort to "judicial review."

If the Canada Revenue Agency decides to revoke its registration, an organization may appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal within 30 days of the final decision.

Contact us

Department of Canadian Heritage, Arts and Cultural Sector Strategy Branch

For program-related inquiries and submitting application forms:
1-866-811-0055 (toll-free)
1-888-997-3123 (toll-free)

Hours of operation are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (local time), Monday to Friday.

Canada Revenue Agency, Charities Directorate

1-800-267-2384 (toll-free)
1-800-665-0354 (toll-free)

Hours of operation are 9 am to 5 pm (local time), Monday to Friday.

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