CRA launches consultation on political activities by Canadian registered charities

September 27, 2016 | By: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Mark Blumberg
Topics: News, What's New from the Charities Directorate of CRA, Canadian Charity Law, Ethics and Canadian Charities

The CRA today launched its political activity consultation.  It reinforces the importance of charities being engaged in the political process. The CRA is looking for feedback on the rules and CRA's guidance.  People or organizations have until November 25, 2016 to provide comments.   We have provided a large amount of documents and analysis on the issue of charities and political activities in our political activities and Canadian charities directory.  

Here is information from the CRA on their political activities consultation:

The Canada Revenue Agency's online consultation on charities' political activities

A. Introduction

Charities play a critical role in our society. They make a valuable contribution to public policy and public debate for all Canadians. To help charities continue this important work, they must be assured they are operating in a regulatory environment that respects and encourages their contribution.

The Government of Canada has committed to modernizing the rules governing the charitable sector. This includes clarifying the rules governing political activities. Registered charities are allowed to engage in non-partisan political activities within certain limits. They are not allowed to engage in partisan political activities. As announced in Budget 2016, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will collaborate with the Department of Finance to engage with charities to clarify the rules governing political activities. As part of this engagement process, the CRA is collecting feedback from charities and the public.

Your feedback will be fully considered in the development of new guidance or educational resources for charities on the rules governing political activities. This online consultation will be part of a series of discussions between the government and the charitable sector on this issue.

B. Background information

The CRA is responsible for administering the Income Tax Act. The Department of Finance Canada is responsible for the legislative framework pertaining to charities as set out in the Act.

The CRA develops policy guidance for charities on how to meet the requirements of the Act, including those related to political activities. The CRA’s policy guidance for charities on political activities includes:

Policy statement CPS-022, Political activities
Resources for charities about political activities

C. Consultation questions

To help with its policy development efforts, the CRA wants your feedback. Please answer the questions below, and feel free to address any other issues related to charities’ political activities.

1.  Carrying out political activities

  • Are charities generally aware of what the rules are on political activities?
  • What issues or challenges do charities encounter with the existing policies on charities’ political activities?
  • Do these policies help or hinder charities in advocating for their causes or for the people they serve?

2.  The CRA’s policy guidance

Is the CRA’s policy guidance on political activities clear, useful, and complete? For example, how could the CRA improve its policy guidance on these topics:

  • the description of a political activity
  • the description of a partisan political activity
  • charities’ accountability for their use of resources 

Which formats are the most useful and effective for offering policy guidance on the rules for political activities? For example:

  • two to three minute videos
  • videoconferences
  • comprehensive guidance documents like those on the CRA website
  • webinars or other types of presentations delivered by organizations other than theCRA
  • other formats

3.  Future policy development

Should changes be made to the rules governing political activities and, if so, what should those changes be?  

D. How to comment

Closing date: All comments are requested by November 25, 2016.

Who may respond:

These consultations are open to everyone. Please email your comments to: .

All submissions the CRA receives fall under the Access to Information Act and may be disclosed in line with its provisions.

If you want you can see the CRA announcement here.   

Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?

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Charity Lawyer Mark Blumberg

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.

mark@blumbergs.ca
416.361.1982
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