A Canada Revenue Agency audit of the Richmond Public Library has raised no concerns about the $1.2 million in tax receipts the institution issued to a donor in 2011 for a blockbuster in-kind donation of 47,000 Chinese-language books, the chief librarian reports.
Greg Buss included a copy of the CRA audit report in a memo to the library board, which highlighted reporting practices the library needs to tighten up, but made no mention of the receipts issued in relation to the big donation from Kwok Chu-Lee and his wife Grace.
The Vancouver Sun had earlier raised concerns about the value the Richmond Public Library placed on the books for purpose of issuing tax receipts because the appraisal the library relied on contained little detail about the methodology appraiser Bjarne Tokerud used.
While a large number of books were received, Tokerud's appraisal reports for the donation - which was broken into two separate lots, one attributed to Lee, the other to his wife - consisted of two single-page letters describing the subject matter, approximate age and condition of the books, and an estimate of their fair-market value.
A single-page appendix noted the two lots constituted one of the largest and best collections of contemporary books he had encountered, with many of the books being impossible to replace.
Tax receipts offer charitable donors the opportunity to reduce their tax burden, which costs taxpayers in foregone revenue. Now-retired Vancouver Sun columnist David Baines raised questions about this donation as a matter of determining whether taxpayers received fair value for the tax receipts.
The CRA audit covered the period of Jan. 1, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2011, including the period in which the Lee donation was made, and Buss states in his memo to the board the audit "raised no concerns with the library's handling of the Lee donation," either with the appraiser's methodology, the value set on the books, or the library's process.
The letter from CRA auditor John Dumalski sets out points where the library was in non-compliance of its reporting as a registered charity and doesn't mention the Lee donation by name.
It only references the donation's $1.2-million amount in a section where it notes that the library had been incorrectly dating tax receipts (although not those for this donation).
"Obviously I'm pleased that the CRA felt we did our due diligence and met all the requirements they set out," Buss said.
He added that the tax agency did identify eight points where the library was not in compliance.
"If you look at them, the majority, I wouldn't say are insignificant, but are easily addressed," he said.
Those pertain to how the library was recording donations, dating its tax receipts, its offering of official tax receipts to other registered charities, and the dates and information included on receipts.
As for the Lee donation itself, Buss said about 26,000 of the books have been catalogued and are in circulation, with about 1,000 of them being checked out every month.
The library is working with experts and academics on developing programming around 15,000 other items such as art books, books on Chinese literature, history, medicine and fortune telling. Buss added that the remaining books have been catalogued, it is just a matter of finding space for them on shelves.
"So there is no question the collection is of interest to the community and is being used by the community," Buss said.
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