Terms of Reference
Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector
The Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector (the Committee) is a consultative forum for the Government of Canada to engage in meaningful dialogue with the charitable sector, to advance emerging issues relating to charities, and to ensure the regulatory environment supports the important work that charities do.
The Committee provides the Minister of National Revenue and the Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) with recommendations for administering and interpreting the Income Tax Act (ITA) and the common law for registered charities and other qualified donees. Members may consult other sector stakeholders to help identify issues and gather input on recommendations.
The Committee may also make recommendations for legislation relating to registered charities and other qualified donees in the ITA. These recommendations will be shared with the Department of Finance Canada (Finance Canada) for consideration.
2. Member composition
The Committee consists of 17 members:
- 2 co-chairs from the charitable sector;
- the Assistant Commissioner of the Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs Branch (LPRAB) of the CRA, serving as the CRA co-chair;
- 12 members with experience grounded in the issues facing the charitable sector. One sector member may serve as sector vice co-chair, to support the sector co-chairs;
- a representative from the Charities Directorate, LPRAB, CRA; and,
- a representative from Finance Canada.
The Minister of National Revenue or Commissioner appoints members and the sector co-chairs. Members may be reappointed. Should a member not be able to serve their full term, the Minister or Commissioner appoints a replacement for the remaining portion of the term.
To ensure continuity, for the first three years members serve different terms. The sector co-chairs and five (5) members serve three (3) year terms, while seven (7) sector members serve two (2) year terms. After the first three (3) years, all sector members and co-chairs serve two (2) year terms.
Membership is voluntary and sector members are not paid for their time or services. In accordance with the CRA Travel Policy, members are reimbursed for travel and accommodation expenses to attend in-person meetings.
Representatives from other government departments may be invited as observers or resource people on a temporary or ongoing basis.
3. Roles and responsibilities of members
The roles and responsibilities of members include:
- identifying emerging issues;
- proposing topics for discussion;
- providing input on CRA services, products, administrative policies, and other issues and initiatives that are identified by or presented to the Committee;
- participating in or leading working groups;
- consulting with representatives of the charitable sector and with their own communities on topics raised by the Committee; and,
- contributing to the development of recommendations.
Committee decisions are ideally made by consensus of the members. If consensus cannot be reached, decisions are made by the majority of members. Topics of discussion must align with the mandate of the Committee (see Section 7).
Information shared by members becomes part of the formal and public proceedings of the Committee upon consensus of the members. Member biographies and photographs also become part of the public proceedings.
Members may discuss Committee initiatives with their associations and colleagues unless advised that they should not do so for reasons of confidentiality.
Committee members are not spokespersons for the CRA. Members are selected to bring their knowledge, sector experience, and diverse perspectives forward on issues affecting the charitable sector as a whole, as well as other groups (for example, volunteers, donors, or charitable sector beneficiaries). Members agree not to use the Committee as a means to advance their own personal interests or further the sole interests of the associations they represent. Members agree not to advocate for specific charities, qualified donees, or taxpayers (for example, applications for registration or compliance audits), or to raise cases that are before the courts.
4. Roles and responsibilities of co-chairs
The roles and responsibilities of the sector and CRA co-chairs include:
- ensuring the Committee adheres to its mandate and members fulfill their roles and responsibilities;
- establishing topics of discussion and working groups in consultation with members;
- developing meeting agendas, approving minutes and reports;
- alternately chairing meetings;
- ensuring all members are heard, engaged, and respected;
- ensuring recommendations are supported with empirical data where applicable;
- reporting progress and recommendations to the Minister of National Revenue and Commissioner; and,
- serving as spokespersons for the Committee.
The roles and responsibilities of the sector co-chairs include:
- liaising between the sector members and the Secretariat; and,
- representing the views of the Committee as a whole.
The roles and responsibilities of the CRA co-chair include:
- liaising between the Committee and the CRA; and,
- providing secretariat services to the Committee (see Section 9).
The Committee meets twice per year in Ottawa, or more frequently if necessary. Members may also meet by videoconference or teleconference. A quorum is required for a Committee meeting to take place. Quorum is met with a minimum of nine members in attendance, including the CRA co-chair and at least one sector co-chair.
6. Working groups
The Committee may form working groups on specific topics as needed. Working groups are to be chaired or co-chaired by sector members. Working groups determine their membership, meeting schedule, and timeline/mechanism for reporting back to the Committee.
Participation on working groups may extend beyond Committee members to include subject matter experts, and charitable and public sector representatives with an interest in the topic.
7. Topics of discussion
The Committee co-chairs propose topics of discussion in consultation with members. In the event of any question arising about whether a topic of discussion will be pursued, the co-chairs together, and/or the Minister and the Commissioner individually, will have the authority to decide whether to include the topic of discussion in the agenda.
The Minister of National Revenue or Commissioner may request that the Committee discuss a specific topic.
The Committee may request information from the Secretariat to inform topics of discussion (see Section 9).
The Committee reports to the Minister of National Revenue and Commissioner with a summary of its progress and recommendations. The Committee determines a schedule and format for ongoing reporting (for example, annually, bi-annually, ad-hoc).
Summaries of in-person Committee meeting proceedings and reports are submitted to the Minister of National Revenue and Commissioner and made publicly available.
Reports and summaries of in-person committee meeting proceedings are circulated to members for review and approval.
The CRA's Charities Directorate provides secretariat services for the Committee, including:
- circulating agendas, minutes, and documentation;
- organizing materials and logistics for Committee and working group meetings;
- processing member travel and expense claims;
- maintaining a digital information sharing platform;
- ensuring that all meeting materials and reports are fully accessible;
- attending Committee and working group meetings; and,
- supporting the co-chairs in their roles and responsibilities communicating with the Minister of National Revenue, Commissioner and other stakeholders.
The Secretariat liaises across the Charities Directorate to provide the Committee with information and data to inform their work and recommendations, and conduct research as necessary.
The Secretariat liaises with officials from other government departments, including Finance Canada.
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