Political Activities and Canadian charities

October 06, 2013

Charity Commission of England and Wales refuses to register Human Dignity Trust

The Charity Commission made clear that it is not questioning the worth of the organization but refused to register it as it did not have exclusively charitable objects.  The Human Dignity Trust was focussed on challenging laws around the world which criminalize consensual gay sex.  It is a difficult set of facts but the case would probably be decided in a similar fashion in Canada.  A charity can carry out some political activities, but its stated or unstated objects have to be exclusively charitable.

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October 05, 2013

Some recent CRA webinars dealing with political activities

The Charities Directorate has recently put up new webinars dealing with political activities.  Charities are allowed to conduct political activities but there are rules and limits around how that should be done.  These webinars will help charities understand CRA’s views on what is a political activity, what kinds of political activities can charities be involved with and the restrictions on registered charities.  Also I have reproduced the transcripts of these presentations which some may prefer to review.

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September 28, 2013

Revelations from the T3010 about Canadian charities and political activities

CRA has begun posting and releasing data from the 2013 T3010 which has extensive questions on Canadian charities and political activities.  So far only 3400 have been released.  Of them only a handful identify that they are doing political activities.  Below are a few of the responses to the question “Describe the charity’s political activities, including gifts to qualified donees intended for political activities, and explain how these relate to its charitable purposes.”  As more information becomes available as more charities file the T3010 for 2013 we will be able to see more information.

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April 08, 2013

Blumbergs’ Charity Law Boot Camp in Toronto - April 18, 2013

On April 18, 2013 we will have the first Blumbergs’ Charity Law Boot Camp in Toronto.  It will be a one day boot camp on compliance and standards issues for Canadian charities led by charity lawyer Mark Blumberg.

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March 15, 2013

CRA comments on political activities and Canadian registered charities

CRA has provided some comments on registered charities and political activities.

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February 11, 2013

House of Commons Finance Committee releases report today on Tax Incentives for Charitable Giving

Today the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (FINA) released its much anticipated report on Tax Incentives for Charitable Giving in Canada.  The report discuss “Charitable Donations and Donors in Canada”, “The Regulation of Charities”, “Tax Incentives and their Estimated Federal Fiscal Cost”  as well as specific proposals such as Charitable Donations Tax Credit Thresholds and Rates and Donations of Real Property and Shares of Private and Public Corporations.  There is also discussions of bequests and tax fairness as well transparency and accountability of charities.

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January 26, 2013

CRA releases new T3010 (13)  for registered charities with fiscal year ends after January 1, 2013

The Charities Directorate has released a new T3010 (13) Registered Charity Information Return for Canadian registered charities with fiscal year ends after January 1, 2013.  The changes on the T3010 (13) are basically more questions about the political activities of Canadian charities as a result of the 2012 Federal Budget.    Canadian charities will need to answer more questions on political activities in Section C5; and fill out a new Schedule 7, Political Activities.  If your fiscal year end is in 2012 then use the old T3010-1 - otherwise, for those with fiscal year ends after January 1, 2013 use the new T3010 (13). As pointed out to me by Steven Ayer of Common Good Strategies there are also an additional question on receipted foreign funds, more country codes and other small changes.

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January 16, 2013

Sean Moore talking about collaboration in public-policy advocacy in Ottawa

Here is what promises to be a great workshop being organized by the The Carleton Centre for Community Innovation and the School of Public Policy and Administration on public policy advocacy.  It is led by Sean Moore and is available for free.

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January 13, 2013

CRA updates Guidance on Political Activities for Canadian registered charities (CPS-022)

CRA’s Guidance on political activities was updated in December 2012.  There are some minor changes to reflect changes to the disbursement quota and recent budgets including the 2012 Federal Budget dealing with political activities and Canadian charities.  The CRA had noted at the Blumbergs Canadian Charity Law Institute on November 28, 2012 that CPS-022 was in the process of revision.  These revisions took place on December 11, 2012.  It is not clear whether there will be further revisions although it appears that there is nothing immediately on the horizon in terms of changes to CPS-022.

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January 12, 2013

Dept. of Finance Q&A on Budget 2012 and Canadian charities and political activities

The Canadian Department of Finance has released through Freedom of Information a Q&A on Budget 2012 and Canadian charities and political activities.

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January 12, 2013

Secret Finance memo released under FOI on Reaction to Budget 2012 Charitable Sector Proposals

The Canadian Department of Finance has released a memo on “Reaction to Budget 2012 Charitable Sector Proposals”

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January 10, 2013

Finance Memo on Registered Charities - Political Activities, Foreign Funding and Transparency

Here is a copy of a memo marked “Secret” and attachments from the Department of Finance on Finance released under Freedom of Information dealing with “Registered Charities - Political Activities, Foreign Funding and Transparency”.

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December 20, 2012

Maytree’s Five Good Ideas about Registered Charities and Political Activities

On February 12, 2013 I will be making a presentation as part of Maytree’s Five Good Ideas series on “Five Good Ideas about Registered Charities and Political Activities”

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December 04, 2012

Which Canadian Charities Spent Money on “political activities” and how much did they spend

We recently reviewed the T3010 information for 2011.  The database was prepared by the Charities Directorate of CRA in September 2012 and covers about 81,000 charities (94% of Canadian registered charities) and their 2011 T3010 returns. 
Canadian registered charities are currently required to disclose on the 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)
Please review my caveats at the end about the reliability and usage of T3010 information.

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November 30, 2012

Recent information from CRA on political activities and Canadian charities

This last week I was involved with 2 events in which members of the Charities Directorate spoke on the subject of political activities.  First, on Wednesday, Linda Desrochers, Director of the Determinations Section of the Charities Directorate, spoke on recent developments including political activities and the 2012 budget at the Blumbergs’ Canadian Charity Law Institute on November 28, 2012.  Secondly, on Thursday November 29, 2012 I spoke at the Canadian Council for Refugees’ Fall Consultation in Toronto on a panel with Zachary Euler of the Common Law Policy and Public Education Section of the Charities Directorate.

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November 21, 2012

Blumbergs’ Canadian Charity Law Institute - corporate law, CRA compliance and more

On November 28, 2012 we will be having the Blumbergs’ Canadian Charity Law Institute in Toronto. It will be a full day of practical legal and ethical compliance information geared toward charities, professional advisors and those interested in regulatory issues affecting charities.
Delighted to have 120 registrants so far for the program. 

Some of the highlights include:

•head of the Determinations Division of the Charities Directorate of CRA, which determines whether charitable applications will be accepted, will talk about issues with applying for charitable status;
•lawyers from the Ontario government will discuss progress and issues with the new Ontario Not-for-profit Corporations Act (ONCA);
•a representative of Corporations Canada of Industry Canada will provide a short primer on the Canada Not-for-profit Corporation Act (CNCA) and transition requirements as well as deficiencies with the applications that Industry Canada is receiving and common questions asked by practitioners. 
•a top corporate lawyer will focus on lessons learned, issues and challenges with the CNCA and what to expect with the ONCA;
•hearing directly from CRA about changes relating to political activities of Canadian charities, other policy developments and upcoming guidances;
•discussion of major challenges with receipting and unacceptable donor restrictions;
•recent changes in transparency and availability of charity information from a transparency expert;
•update from Mark Blumberg on the charity sector, recent developments and the ongoing political processes in Ottawa affecting charities and donors;
•and much more.

Here is a link to the information and registration page: http://charitylaw.eventbrite.com

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November 17, 2012

Calgary Presentation on “Advocacy and Political Activities for Canadian Registered Charities”

I will be delivering a free presentation in Calgary entitled “Advocacy and Political Activities for Canadian Registered Charities: Some Legal and Ethical Perspectives”.

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November 11, 2012

US Bloomberg News “Union Busting by Profiting From Non-Profit May Breach IRS”

Bloomberg News has done a story on how a PR firm has been using charities to promote the interests of various clients and whether this violates certain US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules.

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November 09, 2012

CRA Reminder to Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service about political activities

Here is a Charities Directorate reminder to Canadian Mennonite Publishing Service dated July 23, 2012 about political activities.  Canadian Mennonite has been complaining that CRA is trying to create a chill on charity political activities.

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September 08, 2012

Ottawa Charity Law Boot Camp: compliance and standards issues for Canadian Charities.

I will be delivering for the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation a full day workshop entitled “Charity Law Boot Camp: compliance and standards issues for Canadian Charities”.  It will be on October 12 at Carleton University.

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July 19, 2012

CRA letters to the Hindu Temple Society of Canada relating to penalty and compliance agreement

Here is a copy of a letter from the Charities Directorate to the Hindu Temple Society of Canada.  It is interesting for a number of reasons in that it discusses penalties for making gifts to non-qualified donees and the imposition of both a compliance agreement and a penalty.  Furthermore, the letters discuss funding by the Hindu Temple Society of Canada of the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) and the issue of the involvement of Canadian charities in political activities such as Tamil independence in Sri Lanka.

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July 05, 2012

Ross McMillan’s speech to the Economic Club on environmental charities

I recently had the pleasure of hearing Ross McMillan, President & CEO of Tides Canada, at the Economic Club on June 27, 2012.  He spoke eloquently on the role of environmental charities and the current debate around Canadian charites involved with political activities.  Here is a copy of the speech on the Tides Canada website that he delivered.

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June 27, 2012

Globe and Mail article “In Harper’s crosshairs, green group opens books on foreign donors”

According to the Globe and Mail “An environmental charity at the centre of controversy surrounding political activism and foreign donations is taking the rare step of releasing a detailed account of grant recipients and international donors in an effort to stem attacks by Conservative politicians.”  It will be interesting to see how much this disclosure adds to the disclosure that TIDES US has already made which I discussed in March.

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June 12, 2012

Calgary Herald ‘U of C docs point to political donations that may have contravened election law’

Canadian registered charities are not allowed to make donations to political parties.  The Calgary Herald in an article entitled “U of C documents point to political donations that may have contravened election law” states “Thousands of dollars in “indirect contributions” apparently flowed from the University of Calgary to the Alberta Progressive Conservative party, according to documents obtained by the Herald on Friday through freedom of information laws.”  The matter is being investigated by the chief electoral officer and none of the allegations have been proven.

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June 09, 2012

Canadian Donor’s Guide “Focus on Canadian Charities and Political Activities” article

Here is a short article that I wrote entitled “Focus on Canadian Charities and Political Activities” for the Canadian Donor’s Guide in May 2012.

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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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