Political Activities and Canadian charities

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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April 18, 2014

Some historical CRA letters when registered charity status is revoked - Part II

For a number of years we have been providing the public with copies of CRA revocation letters.  These letters set out the CRA reasons for revocation of charitable status when CRA is alleging cause.  This the second part of the series.

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March 15, 2014

Some historical CRA letters when revocation of charity status

For a number of years we have been providing the public with copies of CRA revocation letters.  These letters set out the CRA reasons for revocation of charitable status when CRA is alleging cause.  We recently requested from CRA some of the older revocation letters and we have posted them below.  It is interesting to see the difference between the current reasons for revocation and those from quite a few years ago. 

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March 13, 2014

Is a registered charity pressuring a First Nations Band a political activity?

Is an aboriginal band considered a level of government by CRA?   Here is the response I recently received from CRA:

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February 27, 2014

Important update from the Charities Directorate’s Director General Cathy Hawara

The Charities Directorate just posted an important message which provides an update on the Charities Directorate activities.  There is discussion of technology, guidances, CNCA, compliance activities but most importantly extensive discussion of political activities.

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February 22, 2014

CRA “Non-Profit Organization Risk Identification Project Report” released

The CRA has just released its Non-Profit Organization Risk Identification Project Report.  The relatively short report makes for interesting reading.  It deals with the 80,000 or so non-profits that are not registered charities.  This will have an impact on groups involved with amateur athletics, business associations, social clubs etc.  The report discusses the requirements for these type of entities and how there is some minor and also serious non-compliance with those current requirements.  The 2014 Federal Budget had promised a review of these type of non-profits and the release of this report is one piece of that discussion.

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February 09, 2014

Who are the Canadian environmental charities?

We recently reviewed the T3010 information for 2012 to see how many charities identify themselves as doing work that relates to the environment.  When we reviewed the T3010 about 1150 registered charities identify themselves as carrying on some work in one of three environmental areas. 

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February 08, 2014

T3010 descriptions of Canadian charities and political activities

About 19,000 Canadian charities have filed their 2013 T3010s so far.  Of those charities some note that they are doing political activities.

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February 07, 2014

G&M “Budget will include measures to expose links between charities and crime, Flaherty says”

In a Globe and Mail article entitled “Budget will include measures to expose links between charities and crime, Flaherty says” there is a discussion of potential items affecting charities in the 2014 Federal Budget set to be delivered on February 11, 2014.

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February 07, 2014

Power and Politics with Evan Solomon deals with Canadian charities and political activities

Last night I was interviewed by Evan Solomon on CBC Power and Politics discussing Canadian charities and political activities.  Other guests included Marlo Raynolds (former Executive Director of the Pembina Institute) and John Bennett of Sierra Club Canada.

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January 11, 2014

Did the University of Windsor spend $285 million on political activities in 2012

Probably not.  Otherwise that would be about 5-10 times more funds than all Canadian registered charities spent on political activities in 2012.  In fact, when we reviewed who spent the most on political activities it appears to me that the top 6 organizations were all mistakes.  Either CRA or the charity messed up when inputting the numbers.  All charities, but especially larger charities, should carefully review their T3010 before filing and also check that the CRA got the information correct a few months after filing.

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November 26, 2013

More from the T3010-13 on political activities

I just reviewed the latest T3010 data disk for 2013 and here are the descriptions of activities for political activities by Canadian charities.  This is only based on 7900 of the approximately 86,000 charities.

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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.

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