Political Activities and Canadian charities

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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May 18, 2015

Presentation to the Université de Montréal Charity Law Conference 2015

I was delighted to present as part of a panel at the Université de Montréal Charity Law Conference 2015 on May 8, 2015.  The panel was entitled The Modern Charities Regulator and my presentation was entitled "Overview of the Regulatory Environment in Canada for Registered Charities".

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May 17, 2015

Toronto Star article on Fraser Institute and political activities

In a recent Toronto Star article entitled "Critics say Fraser Institute letter highlights ‘enormous lack of clarity’ in charity-audit rules" the Toronto Star discusses a letter from the Fraser Institute to supporters. The article raises some interesting points but I have some concerns with the article as well.

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April 24, 2015

Political Activity Audits and the CRA Program Update 2015

We have blogged about the CRA Program Update 2015 separately but wanted to focus here on what the update provides in terms of information on the political activity audits of CRA's Charities Directorate.  CRA should be commended for publishing a program update.  I am certainly not aware of any regulatory requirement that they need to, but the program update does provide useful information for the charity sector.  In the program update you have to read pretty far into the 5000 word document to see the "Charities and Political Activities" update but it is important so we have created a separate blog post. 

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April 20, 2015

Blumbergs’ Snapshot of the Canadian Charity Sector 2013

We have just released the Blumbergs' Snapshot of the Canadian Charity Sector 2013 as part of the Sean Blumberg Transparency Project.   The database covers about 83,000 of the 86,000 registered charities in Canada that had filed their T3010 and were processed into CRA’s Charity Listing database by December 2014. 

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March 09, 2015

CRA makes available a Political Activities PowerPoint Presentation for registered charities to use

As part of their educational mandate to encourage charities to be compliant with their legal requirements, including when conducting political activities, the Charities Directorate has released a "Political Activities PowerPoint Presentation" that registered charities can use internally to understand the limits of political activities.  There is both the presentation and the speakers notes.    

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February 19, 2015

CRA has minor updates to its Fundraising Guidance to include footnote on Gour decision

The CRA Fundraising Guidance, is CRA's main document dealing with the obligations of registered charities when it comes to fundraising.   The  CRA Fundraising Guidance was initially published in 2009 but then significantly updated on April 20, 2012. At the bottom of each page on the CRA website it notes the last date in which the document was updated.  In the case of the Fundraising Guidance it shows the last update was on June 16, 2014.  I wondered what had been changed.  There appears to be only one important addition - a new footnote to add an Ontario case in which a fundraiser was charged and convicted of fraud.      

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February 09, 2015

Globe and Mail article “Think tanks need to show us the money”

The Globe and Mail had an article by Konrad ​Yakabuski questioning the degree of transparency about sources of funding with Canadian registered charities that are "think tanks"

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February 08, 2015

Updated Canadian Registered Charity Legal Checklist by Mark Blumberg

Here is an updated version of the Canadian Charity Legal Checklist.  For those who are interested in reviewing legal compliance for their registered charity they may find the checklist helpful.  

February 01, 2015

CRA proposes annulment of Dying with Dignity Canada’s charitable registration

The CRA has recently proposed annulment of the registration of Dying with Dignity Canada (DWD), a Canadian registered charity.   In terms of full disclosure I am a legal counsel to DWD.   Here is a note from DWD and a statement from DWD.  

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February 01, 2015

Presentation by Cathy Hawara of the Charities Directorate of CRA

Here is a copy of the slides of a presentation made by Cathy Hawara, Director General of the Charities Directorate of CRA, to the PFC conference in October 2014.  It covers some interesting material.   

January 30, 2015

CRA releases T3010 Registered Charity Information Return for returns for FYE after Jan 1, 2015

It seems that about every year there is a new T3010 form.   CRA has released the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return for returns for fiscal year ends after Jan 1, 2015.

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January 28, 2015

Sessional Paper from CRA on political activities by Canadian registered charities

Imagine Canada has obtained an interesting sessional paper from the Canada Revenue Agency.  The questions responded to were provided by MP Hedy Fry.  The paper provides some insight into CRA activity relating to charities and political activities.  

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January 23, 2015

ONN webinar “Advocacy and Political Activities: Busting myths and misconceptions!”

On February 11, 2015, I will be delivering a webinar for the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) entitled "Advocacy and Political Activities: Busting myths and misconceptions!"

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January 23, 2015

Note from Marni Soupcoff of the Canadian Constitution Foundation on the Broadbent Institute Report

I received an email from Marni Soupcoff of the Canadian Constitution Foundation.  She discusses the narrative that supposedly no "right-leaning" groups are being audited for political activities.  I thought I would share it.

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December 13, 2014

Blumbergs’ Canadian Charity Law Boot Camp 2015

We are looking forward to presenting the Blumbergs' Canadian Charity Law Boot Camp 2015 on April 14, 2015.   For information or to register see: Blumbergs' Canadian Charity Law Boot Camp 2015

November 27, 2014

Which Canadian registered charities spent the most on political activities in 2013?

CRA has posted the T3010 Registered Charity Information Returns for 82,000 of the 86,000 Canadian registered charities.   About 477 Canadian registered charities identified conducting political activities whether by volunteer, staff or spending funds. Here is a link to our article "Which charities spent the most on political activities in 2013?"

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September 06, 2014

Which Canadian Registered Charities Spent Money on “political activities” and how much in 2012

We recently reviewed the T3010 information for 2012.   The database was prepared by the Charities Directorate of CRA in June 2014 and covers about 85,477 charities which is almost all of the 2012 T3010 returns.  Canadian registered charities were required to disclose on the 2012 T3010 “Did the Charity Carry on Political Activities During the Fiscal Year?” (line 2400) and “Enter the Total Amount spent by the Charity on these activities” (line 5000)

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August 28, 2014

Andrew Coyne: “Problem with charities isn’t their politics, it’s their generous tax credit”

Andrew Coyne recently wrote an opinion piece in the National Post in which he supports the idea of eliminating the tax credit for donations to registered charities.   The article is entitled "Problem with charities isn’t their politics, it’s their generous tax credit".  Mr. Coyne is by no means the first person to call for such action.  It is difficult to know whether this is just another opinion piece or if there will be traction with his line of argument.

August 26, 2014

Partial Glimpse at 2013 T3010 Filings Dealing with Political Activities by Canadian Charities

In this article entitled "Partial Glimpse at 2013 T3010 Filings Dealing with Political Activities by Canadian Registered Charities" I discuss the 51,000 Canadian registered charities have had their T3010 for 2013 added to the CRA database so far.   This 51,000 represents about 60% of registered Canadian charities. In a partial glimpse of the 2013 T3010 information about 333 of 51,000 charities reported so far carrying on any political activities during their 2013 fiscal year, whether by volunteer, staff or spending.  A similar number also said they spent money on political activities. 

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August 09, 2014

Mark Blumberg’s submission to the Finance Committee for 2015 pre-budget consultations

Here is a copy of our submission to the Finance Committee for the 2015 pre-budget consultations.   In the pre-budget submission we discuss having greater transparency with both non-profit organizations and registered charities and also the issue of charities and political activities.  

August 07, 2014

Revocation letters by CRA for charities and political activities - over the last 20 years.

Over the last 20 years CRA has revoked a number of charities for ostensibly being involved in partisan political activities, or exceeding the 10% of resources on political activities, or for having an unstated political purpose.  In light of all the interest in charities and political activities we thought that it would be a good idea to provide a list of CRA letters that I am aware of relating to those revocations.  For those who are interested in the issue of charities and political activities these are important documents.   

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August 06, 2014

Charity Commission forces “environmental” charity to set up campaigning arm

Here is an interesting article that appeared in the http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/ website.  It discusses a “climate change-sceptic charity” that is being forced to stop certain “educational” activities and to set up an affiliated but separate entity to propagate material that "lacked balance and promoted a particular line of opinion designed to elicit debate.”  Please note the similarity to Canada in that if a charity wants to engage in more than the allowable amount of political activities or wants to spread information that let us just say falls below the level of education as understood in the charitable sense, then they can set up a non-profit that is not a registered charity.  

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July 26, 2014

Focus by media on CRA political activity audits - some preliminary thoughts

In the last week there has been a large number of articles in the Canadian media on Canadian charities and political activities.  I would make a few preliminary points that sometimes get lost in the coverage.  

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July 25, 2014

How much is CRA planning on spending to deal with the issue of charities and political activities?

In the 2012 Federal Budget the Conservative government announced that it was allocating $8 million for various initiatives related to charities and political activities.   More recently papers have been describing a $13 million budget.   I wondered about the difference and wrote to CRA  to request a clarification.  Here is what I heard back from CRA.

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


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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