Posts Tagged ‘CRA’

Charities now free to engage in non-partisan political activities

July 20th, 2018 by Brian Iler

This article was first published on

Charities are now free to engage in non-partisan political activities.

That’s the explicit message of the Ontario Superior Court in its decision this week.

What a huge relief to those many charities that suffered through Stephen Harper’s politically motivated Canada Revenue Agency audits!

While Justin Trudeau promised reform, and suspended action on those audits, he has yet to deliver reform.

But the court did.

The application to the court was brought by a small charity, Canada Without Poverty, after Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) threatened to take away its charitable registration, alleging that virtually all of its activities involved political engagement.

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Impact investing: What are charities able to do?

April 3rd, 2018 by Ted Hyland

This article was first published on

Are charities legally permitted to make impact investments with their funds? Yes, but, getting to “yes” is not straightforward, and depends on the circumstances.

Impact investing is the use (mainly, but not exclusively) of money to simultaneously realize a financial return and a public or social good. A 2016 survey published by the Responsible Investment Association in Canada reports that in 2015 more than $9.2 billion in assets under management were identified by the survey respondents as being impact investments. A 2017 report by the Global Impact Investing Network  reveals US$114 billion in impact investments worldwide in 2016. These investments are in sectors ranging from housing and energy to microfinance, education, and arts and culture. The investment instruments include debt (e.g., loans, bonds), equity (both private and public shareholdings or units in partnerships), and real assets (in other words, tangible assets such as real estate or commodities, rather than financial capital).

Increasingly, charities are looking at using their funds and other resources to contribute to positive social, economic, cultural and environmental change (“social impact”), as well as to obtain a financial return. But does the law permit them to do so? Continue reading “Impact investing: What are charities able to do?”

A friendly visit from the CRA? About the new Charities Education Program

December 18th, 2017 by Elliot Fonarev

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has launched a program to conduct in‑person visits to 500 registered charities each year to provide information and advice on their obligations under the Income Tax Act. The Charities Education Program (CEP) is designed to help charities avoid common errors and identify potential issues before it files its next information return.

Your charity may be selected by the CRA if it is newly registered, based on information from the charity’s information return (Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return), or if the charity has not complied in common areas such as receipting and reporting. All charities are eligible for a CEP visit. The CRA is also considering creating an ‘on‑demand’ service in the future for charities that wish to request a CEP visit, however currently charities are not able to request a visit.

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CRA Consultation Panel Releases its Report on Charities Political Activities

May 10th, 2017 by Claudia Pedrero

The Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities (the Consultation Panel) has now released its Report recommending changes to how charities should be regulated in Canada.

Earlier this year, we blogged about the Canada Revenue Agency’s (the CRA’s) consultation process on charities’ political activities.

Our firm also submitted its recommendations to the CRA advocating for changes that would allow charities to effectively participate in public policy debates.

In our submissions we took the position that the CRA’s current rules restricting charities’ political activities make their political role ineffective despite the fact charities are uniquely positioned to advocate for the public interest and many are experts in their fields.

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Public interest should be central to regulation of charities’ political activities

January 6th, 2017 by Brian Iler

This article was first published on

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has been notorious in recent years for its attacks on charities for their alleged political activities. Charities concerned about climate change and Aboriginal rights bore the brunt, with some still awaiting the attitude change promised by Justin Trudeau when he took power.

Taking Trudeau at his word, our law firm provided our thoughts to the Liberals’ inquiry on the issue of how charities’ political activities should be regulated.

Below is a précis. Our full submission is here.

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Small and Rural Charities Initiative Update

October 15th, 2012 by Laura Bowman

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) completed its Joint Action Plan as part of the Small and Rural Charities Initiative.  The recommendations include more community-based, in-person service for small and rural charities through the development of community partnerships with umbrella groups, universities, or colleges, where feasible and providing a list of services available to charities in their communities (such as municipal benefits, pro-bono university legal services, etc.).  The CRA may also consider developing and distributing educational products, including a Roadshow (Charity Information Session) DVD to small and rural charities, as well as to newly registered charities, non-compliant charities, and other charities upon request.  The CRA will also consider promoting the development of community networks, to enable small and rural charities to communicate, share best practices, and learn from each other.  There is a full chart setting out the recommendations. For more information see the report The Small and Rural Charities: Making a Difference for Canadians.

Rural charities may have limited access to expertise and may need legal advice to get their organization into compliant condition.  Please contact us today to get assistance with CRA issues facing small and rural charities.