Political Activities and Canadian charities

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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July 13, 2014

CRA revokes Jesus of Bethlehem Worship Centre as a charity - cites ineligible individuals

Finally.  It took more than 3 years but CRA has identified that it has revoked a charity for in part having "ineligible individuals" controlling the organization.  I was sure that I was going to die of old age before that ever happened!  Amongst a number of grounds CRA notes "The audit also revealed that the board of directors of the Organization includes “ineligible individuals” as defined in the Act. In particular, two directors of the Organization were directors of The Heaven’s Gate Healing Ministry at a time when it engaged in conduct which constituted a serious breach of the requirements for registration under the Act, for which its registration was revoked in 2009."

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July 11, 2014

Cathy Hawara’s speech on constitutional framework, political activities, compliance and IT

In May, Cathy Hawara, the Director General of the Charities Directorate delivered a speech which touches on a number of important issues such as the constitutional framework for charities, political activities by registered charities, independence of the regulator, compliance approach and IT modernization. It is well worth reading.  

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July 01, 2014

Blumbergs’ Snapshot of the Canadian Charity Sector 2012

We have just released the Blumbergs’ Snapshot of the Canadian Charity Sector 2012.  The Canadian charity sector has grown again.   The Canadian charity sector is a vital part of Canadian society and economy with revenue of over $223 billion and expenditures of about $218 billion.

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May 01, 2014

Further T3010 descriptions of political activities by Canadian registered charities

The T3010 now asks additional questions about political activities.   So far the CRA 2013 database has about 36,000 charities on it.  There are in total approximately 86,000 Canadian registered charities who will file their T3010s.  Therefore, less than half of the 2013 T3010 forms have been filed and inputted into the CRA database so far.   By January or February of 2015 we should expect an almost complete data set.   We have exported the information from the 2013 T3010 database in Schedule 7 dealing with description of political activities from the registered charities that have made filings.  

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April 26, 2014

CRA launches new video series on charities and political activities

The CRA has prepared a new video series entitled "Charities and their participation in political activities".  It has 3 videos which are each about 3 minutes long.  There has been  a great deal of interest in political activities and charities over the last couple of years.  I would recommend that charities listen to these CRA videos.   I will also point out that I recently did a 25 minute video on political activities for the Maytree Foundation that some may also find useful.   

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April 19, 2014

Blumbergs’ Charity Legal Checklist

Here is an updated version of the Blumbergs Charity Legal Checklist.

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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
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