The Canada Revenue Agency's online consultation on charities' political activities



The consultations are now closed. This page is provided for reference purposes only.

A. Introduction

Charities play a critical role in our society. They make a valuable contribution to public policy and public debate for all Canadians. To help charities continue this important work, they must be assured they are operating in a regulatory environment that respects and encourages their contribution.

The Government of Canada has committed to modernizing the rules governing the charitable sector. This includes clarifying the rules governing political activities. Registered charities are allowed to engage in non-partisan political activities within certain limits. They are not allowed to engage in partisan political activities. As announced in Budget 2016, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will collaborate with the Department of Finance to engage with charities to clarify the rules governing political activities. As part of this engagement process, the CRA is collecting feedback from charities and the public.

Your feedback will be fully considered in the development of new guidance or educational resources for charities on the rules governing political activities. This online consultation will be part of a series of discussions between the government and the charitable sector on this issue.

In-person consultations with representatives from the charitable sector, moderated by an independent external facilitator, will take place in Halifax, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver between November 29 and December 13, 2016 (Amended - New location added). This will complement the online consultation by allowing for a more detailed exploration of this issue with charity representatives that have practical experience in carrying out political activities and using the CRA’s educational resources.

B. Background information

The CRA is responsible for administering the Income Tax Act. The Department of Finance Canada is responsible for the legislative framework pertaining to charities as set out in the Act.

The CRA develops policy guidance for charities on how to meet the requirements of the Act, including those related to political activities. The CRA’s policy guidance for charities on political activities includes:

C. Consultation questions

To help with its policy development efforts, the CRA wants your feedback. Please answer the questions below, and feel free to address any other issues related to charities’ political activities.

1.  Carrying out political activities

  • Are charities generally aware of what the rules are on political activities?

  • What issues or challenges do charities encounter with the existing policies on charities’ political activities?

  • Do these policies help or hinder charities in advocating for their causes or for the people they serve?

2.  The CRA’s policy guidance

  • Is the CRA’s policy guidance on political activities clear, useful, and complete? For example, how could the CRA improve its policy guidance on these topics:

    • the description of a political activity

    • the description of a partisan political activity

    • charities’ accountability for their use of resources 

  • Which formats are the most useful and effective for offering policy guidance on the rules for political activities? For example:

    • two to three minute videos

    • videoconferences

    • comprehensive guidance documents like those on the CRA website

    • webinars or other types of presentations delivered by organizations other than the CRA

    • other formats

3.  Future policy development

Should changes be made to the rules governing political activities and, if so, what should those changes be?  

D. How to comment

Closing date: All comments are requested by December 14, 2016 (Amended – Submission deadline extended).

Who may respond:

These consultations are open to everyone. Please email your comments to:

All submissions the CRA receives fall under the Access to Information Act and may be disclosed in line with its provisions.

Charity representatives who wish to participate in the in-person consultation sessions can express their interest by email to: All requests will be taken into consideration. Please be aware that priority will be given to charities that have practical experience in carrying out political activities, and that a mix of charities of different size and fields of work will be selected. As space is limited, the CRA encourages all charities that have not received an invitation before November 29 to participate in the online consultation, to ensure their views are fully considered.

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