The CRA on August 22, 2011 published their Guidance CG-011, Promotion of Animal Welfare and Charitable Registration. CRA had completed and public consultation and here is the revised guidance.
Here is the link: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/plcy/cgd/nmlwlfr-eng.html
Here is the summary from the Guidance:
Promoting the welfare of animals can be a charitable purpose. When it is charitable, promoting the welfare of animals normally falls under one or both of the following heads, or categories, of charitable purposes:
•the advancement of education (the second head)
•other purposes beneficial to the community that are considered charitable at law (the fourth head):
?promoting the moral or ethical development of the community
?upholding the administration and enforcement of the law
?protecting the environment
According to common law, a purpose is only charitable when it provides a benefit to the public (or a sufficient segment of the public). In the context of animal welfare, the courts have determined that promoting the welfare of animals provides an intangible moral benefit to humanity in general. As a result, the very act of showing kindness to animals in need of assistance or care satisfies the public benefit requirement under common law.
Charitable activities that could promote the welfare of animals may include, but are not limited to, the following types of activities:
•operating an animal rescue service
•maintaining a sanctuary for aging, dangerous, displaced, unhealthy, or former farm animals
•protecting the environment, such as by preserving an ecosystem and its wildlife [Footnote 1]
•monitoring the transportation of animals such as companion or agricultural animals
The Income Tax Act permits all registered charities to use a limited amount of their resources to conduct non-partisan political activities. With regard to animal welfare charities, this includes advocating for changes in law regarding animal welfare if these activities further the charitable purposes. However, notwithstanding the Income Tax Act provision allowing limited political activities, common law prohibits organizations that are constituted for a political purpose to be recognized as charitable. For more information, see Policy Statement CPS-022, Political Activities.
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Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.