Topics: What's New from the Charities Directorate of CRA, Canadian Charity Law, Political Activities and Canadian charities
The CRA announced today that they are appealing the CWB decision. This is not surprising as we noted in our blog on July 30, 2018 "Canada Without Poverty vs. AG – a pyrrhic victory for CWP and a disaster for the charity sector". The CRA and Finance press release noted that "the Government of Canada identified significant errors of law and has served notice that it will be appealing the decision to address the uncertainty created by it, and to seek clarification on important issues of constitutional and charity law." As well, the government has said that they will be introducing legislation in the spring and then responding to the report of the Consultation Panel.
Here is the full text of the press release from Minister of National Revenue (CRA) and Finance today:
Statement by the Minister of National Revenue and Minister of Finance on the Government's commitment to clarifying the rules governing the Political activies [sic] of charities
OTTAWA, Aug. 15, 2018 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, and the Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance, issued the following joint statement on the Government of Canada's commitment to clarify the rules governing the political activities of charities:
"Our Government recognizes that charities play a key role in Canadian society, and provide valuable services to Canadians. We recognize the experience and value they bring to public debate, and to the formulation of public policy. As it was clearly stated in our mandate letters, our Government is committed to clarifying the rules that govern the participation of charities in political activities and we are taking the necessary steps to move forward on that commitment.
"With regard to the decision in Canada Without Poverty v the Attorney General of Canada, rendered on July 16, 2018, the Government of Canada has identified significant errors of law and has served notice that it will be appealing the decision to address the uncertainty created by it, and to seek clarification on important issues of constitutional and charity law. The resolution of these legal issues, while necessary, will not change the policy direction the Government intends to take with respect to the removal of quantitative limits on political activities.
"As a matter of good public policy, and to move forward with this commitment, our Government intends to amend the Income Tax Act to implement changes consistent with recommendation no. 3 of the Report of the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities. The intended amendments will allow charities to pursue their charitable purposes by engaging in non-partisan political activities and in the development of public policy. Charities will still be required to have exclusively charitable purposes, and restrictions against partisan political activities will remain.
"Our Government intends to present legislation to this effect in the Fall. The Canada Revenue Agency will develop supporting guidance in collaboration with the charitable sector. The legislation will be drafted to apply retroactively, including to the audits and objections that are currently suspended. This suspension will be lifted when the legislation is passed by Parliament, when we intend to fully respond to the Report of the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities."
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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.