Statement by the Minister of National Revenue and the Minister of Finance on the Government's commitment to clarifying the rules governing the political activities of charities
August 15, 2018 Ottawa Canada Revenue Agency
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.”
The CRA held online consultations on the rules governing charities’ political activities from September 27 to December 14, 2016. In-person consultations with representatives from the charitable sector took place across Canada between November 29 and December 13, 2016.
The Government established a Consultation Panel to review the feedback and make recommendations on how the rules governing political activities could be clarified. The Consultation Panel presented its report to the Minister of National Revenue in March 2017.
Of the approximately 86,000 registered charities in Canada, about 500 report carrying out political activities on their annual information return to the CRA.
Office of the Minister of National Revenue
Canada Revenue Agency
Office of the Minister of Finance
Department of Finance Canada
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