Nova Scotia

Chester Golf's non-profit status questioned

The Canada Revenue Agency is questioning how a Nova Scotia golf club that operates as a non-profit organization is handling its finances.
The non-profit Chester Golf Course may be forced to turn into a for-profit organization. (CBC)

The Canada Revenue Agency is questioning how a Nova Scotia golf club that operates as a non-profit organization is handling its finances.

The Chester Golf Course, which has approximately 850 members, operates as a non-profit organization that relies partly on revenue from non-members in the form of green fees, restaurant sales and golf cart rentals.

Tax laws stipulate all money brought in must stay within the club's regular operation and maintenance — and the Canada Revenue Agency wants the golf club to make itself a members-only location or lose its non-profit status.

Leigh Ford, a Chester Golf Course member, said he doesn't understand the concern because the club has always played by the rules.

"Any surplus funds end up going back into the course, so there's no profits given to anyone in particular," he told CBC News.

Management at the Chester Golf Course declined an interview with CBC News, but said the club conducts internal audits at the end of every season.

The seaside course averages more than 30,000 rounds a year and non-members paying green fees account for approximately 35 per cent of those rounds.

If the Chester Golf Course is forced to file as a for-profit organization, it will also have to pay tax on any capital gains based on the value of the land.

Rick Splonick, who plays at the club as a non-member, said he's concerned the Chester Golf Course will be forced to turn him away.

"The comment I'm hearing is business as usual for now, whatever that means," he said.

"Hopefully, that's longer term rather than shorter term."

The Canada Revenue Agency declined an interview with CBC News, citing privacy concerns. In an emailed statement, they said they are trying to improve the rules that govern tax exemptions available to non-profit organizations.

Dozens of golf clubs across Canada have also been audited, as well as hundreds of other non-profit organizations.

"When the government is looking at obesity as being a major issue, the thought that they're looking at sports and trying to ruin it - it's shocking," said Ruth Christian.

now