Political Activities and Canadian charities

September 24, 2016

CRA analysis of charities that disclosed on T3010 they did political activities

We recently obtained a copy of the CRA analysis of charities that disclosed on the T3010 they did political activities.  In a note from Bryan McLean, Director of Policy, Planning and Legislation Division of CRA to Cathy Hawara the then current Director General of the Charities Directorate, Mr. McLean includes a summary of the percentage of Canadian charities that identified on the T3010 that they conducted political activities and also the names of those charities.  

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September 17, 2016

CRA Assessment of Political Activities Audit Program against Oct 2012 Compliance Framework

Last week we posted the CRA Compliance Framework for Files with Identified Political Activities. Now here is the draft CRA Assessment of Charities Directorate Political Activities Audit Program against Oct 2012 Compliance Framework.  It was prepared by the Charities Directorate of the CRA around September 17, 2014 to review how the Charities Directorate was doing in relation to the October 2012 compliance framework.  

September 15, 2016

Modernizing charity law in Canada is for now a Pandora’s box

The Liberal Government has made some noises about modernizing charity law.  Who could be opposed to modernization?  As there is no idea as to what "modernization" means, it has opened up all sorts of calls for changes to charity law in Canada - many of the ideas would be expensive, counterproductive, stifling, or ultimately destroy the positive reputation of the charity sector.  Wikipedia defines a Pandora's box as "a process that generates many complicated problems as the result of unwise interference in something."  Although only time will tell, it appears that "modernizing charity law" has a small upside and a very large downside.  

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September 10, 2016

CRA Compliance Framework for Files with Identified Political Activities

Here is a copy of the CRA Compliance Framework for Files with Identified Political Activities from the Charities Directorate of the CRA.   It is dated October 9, 2012.  It provides some answers to some of the questions around how were charities identified for audit.  Next week we will post a follow up document namely the "Assessment of Charities Directorate Political Activities Audit Program against October 2012 Compliance Framework".

September 07, 2016

CRA presentation on the Regulation of Charities - Overview September 2014

Here is a copy of a CRA Powerpoint presentation slide deck on the Regulation of Charities - Overview - September 2014.  It provides some useful information including the CRA's audit plan.  For example, the audit plan shows that CRA planned on auditing in 2014/15 32 registered Canadian amateur athletic associations (RCAAAs).  That is a pretty large number as there are only 119 RCAAAs in total.   Political activity audits in that same period only accounted for 2% of CRA audits.  Only 4% of charities audited resulted in CRA issuing an notice of intention to revoke.  

September 06, 2016

Canada Without Poverty charter challenge to political activity rules of Canadian charities

A Canadian charity has launched a charter challenge against the restrictions on registered charities in carrying out political activities. They argue that it violates freedom of speech and assembly amongst other things.  The CBC covered it in an article entitled "Anti-poverty group launches challenge of political-activity limits".

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September 04, 2016

Copy of the CRA Ministerial Transition Briefing Binder from November 2015 - labelled “secret”

We have uploaded a copy of the "secret" CRA Ministerial Transition Briefing Binder provided to the new Minister of Revenue Diane Lebouthillier in November 2015.  It was obtained pursuant to access to information.  It covers the mundane matters such as roles and responsibilities and an introduction/overview to the CRA and goes on to discuss top issues that the CRA has to deal with including the "tax gap", FACTA, BC and Ontario housing market, charities and political activities, international collaboration on tax avoidance  etc.  The document as a whole provides a good civics lesson and context from the CRA perspective as to the role and responsibilities the CRA which is an important agency within the Federal government.  It is searchable if you are looking for something in particular. Over the next couple of months I will try to release every Saturday another CRA document on our website.     

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June 18, 2016

“Donald Trump Accused of Using His Charity as a Political Slush Fund” - The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast has a rather extensive article on Donald Trump's use of the Trump Foundation entitled Donald Trump Accused of Using His Charity as a Political Slush Fund.  It is well worth reading.  I have criticized the Clinton Foundation for some lapses when it came to transparency and especially the lame excuses they gave in response to questions.  Nothing that the Clinton's have done with their foundation seems to be even close to the seriousness of the allegations leveled against the Trump Foundation.

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May 27, 2016

AFP Toronto Fundraising Day:  The Time is Now: Government Relations for Canadian Charities

I am pleased to be on a panel for AFP GTA Fundraising Day with Caroline Riseboro, Bruce MacDonald, Hilary Pearson, and Stewart Wong.  The topic of the panel will be "The Time is Now: Government Relations for Canadian Charities".

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April 14, 2016

Blumbergs’ Snapshot of the Canadian Charity Sector 2014

We have just released the Blumbergs' Snapshot of the Canadian Charity Sector 2014 as part of the Sean Blumberg Transparency Project.  This is the fifth snapshot provided by Blumbergs of the Canadian charity sector. The database covers about 84,500 of the 86,000 registered charities in Canada that had filed their T3010 for the 2014 year and were processed into CRA’s Charity Listing database by February 2016. 

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March 15, 2016

AFP GTA Fundraising Day 2016

I look forward to the AFP GTA Fundraising Day 2016 which will be held on June 9, 2016.  There will be various speakers and panels.  I  will be on a panel with Bruce MacDonald (Imagine Canada), Hilary Pearson (PFC), Caroline Riseboro (Plan International), Stewart Wong (Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital) dealing with the importance of government relations.

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January 28, 2016

Sunny days for charities and political activities?  But lack of transparency results in some clouds

Here is an article "Sunny days for charities and political activities?  But lack of transparency results in some clouds" which discusses a recent press release from the Minister of National Revenue dealing with the charity political audit program.  

January 21, 2016

Liberals announces winding down of the political activities audit program for charities

Diane Lebouthillier, the new Minister of National Revenue has announced that the 2012 Conservative government initiative to audit more registered charities on the issue of political activities will be wound down.  There is a lot in the release and I will be writing more about it shortly.  

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December 18, 2015

The important charity information British people get to see that Canadians are forbidden from seeing

The Charity Commission of England and Wales just released a report entitled Campaigning and political issues arising in the run-up to the 2015 General Election.  When they put it out they probably did not think that it is such a special report.  It explained that in the 2015 UK election there were complaints about UK charities, the Charity Commission investigated and what the result was.   Nothing that exciting, except in Canada if the CRA was to prepare a similar report and provide it to either MPs or the public then people at CRA would go to jail.    

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November 01, 2015

Ontario Bar Association program “Top Compliance Issues for Canadian Charities” on Nov 9, 2015

On November 9, 2015 I will be presenting a program for the Ontario Bar Association, along with Nevena Urosevic, on Top Compliance Issues for Canadian Charities.  It is available both in-person and by webcast.

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October 18, 2015

Snapshot on Political Activities in the Canadian Charity Sector 2013

We have prepared as part of the Sean Blumberg Transparency Project this Snapshot on Political Activities in the Canadian Charity Sector 2013.

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August 27, 2015

Election 2015 and Canadian charities - article for Hilborn

I recently wrote an article "Election 2015 and Canadian charities" for Hilborn.   Charities that are involved in political activities may find it helpful. 

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August 22, 2015

CRA posts “Advisory on partisan political activities” as the 2015 Federal election continues

The CRA has posted an "Advisory on partisan political activities" as a reminder to Canadian registered charities that they must avoid all partisan political activities, although they are allowed to conduct certain political activities related to their objects and within in certain resource limitations.

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August 02, 2015

Canadian Charities and Political Activities: Keeping room temperature in a chilly environment

August 02, 2015

Cathy Hawara’s comments on political activities and compliance in a May 2015 speech

Political activities and charities has been a hot button issue over the last few years.  With Prime Minister Harper launching the 2015 election today it is important for Canadian charities to be aware of their legal obligations and to comply with them. Here are excerpts from the comments by Cathy Hawara, Director General of the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency, on political activities and compliance in a May 2015 speech that CRA released on Friday.    

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July 22, 2015

New CRA webpages on political audits and the general audit process

July 03, 2015

“Top 20 Charity Law Issues for Canadian Registered Charities” in Ottawa July 15

On July 15, 2015 Mark Blumberg will be delivering a 2 hour presentation entitled "Top 20 Charity Law Issues for Canadian Registered Charities" in Ottawa.  The presentation is complimentary but if you are interested in attending you should register here.

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June 24, 2015

Carleton University “Public policy for philanthropy, charities and nonprofits” - July 16

I will be on a panel at Carleton University on July 16 discussing "Public policy for philanthropy, charities and nonprofits– The issue we cannot ignore" with Cathy Barr, Senior Vice-President, Imagine Canada and Liz Sutherland, Policy Advisor, Ontario Nonprofit Network.

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May 28, 2015

House of Commons Finance Committee has announced the 2015 pre-budget consultations

The House of Commons Finance Committee has announced the 2015 pre-budget consultations.   Charities interested in making submissions to the Finance Committee should review their recent press release.  Submissions should be dealing with certain themes and no longer than 2,000 words.  They must be submitted by August 7, 2015.  

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May 21, 2015

Fundamentals of Political Activities by Canadian Registered Charities

The involvement of charities in political activities has been a major story since 2012. The 2012 Federal Budget introduced new reporting requirements for charities for 2013 but does not fundamentally affect the ability of charities to engage in political activities. Significant resources have been provided to the Charities Directorate to audit charities who conduct political activities. On Tuesday September 22, 2015 we will conduct a 1/2 day program from 9AM-12PM entitled Fundamentals of Political Activities by Canadian Registered 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.

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