NSIRA Review of CRA
The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) will review the national security activities conducted by Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Review and Analysis Division (RAD).
As described by the CRA Commissioner, RAD’s role is to support the government’s “counter terrorism efforts and to build on” the CRA’s responsibility to ensure charities meet regulatory and administrative requirements under the Income Tax Act (ITA).
What Is This Review?
This review will essentially pick up where the Ombudsperson’s Investigation into CRA’s audit practices ended (which was prompted by concerns from Muslim-led charities). Last November, the Ombudsperson released a statement about challenges accessing taxpayer information, and that information gaps made it hard to compare tax file information with stakeholder concerns. Various ITA rules prohibited the CRA from disclosing certain file information. The NSIRA is not subject to those constraints.
Formally, the NSIRA review will focus on:
“…the RAD program’s national security activities and decision-making relating to registered Canadian charities, to assess their reasonableness, necessity, and compliance with the law.”
Responses to the Review
The Minister of Finance welcomes the review and “view[s] it as an important next step that will complement the forthcoming publication of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson’s review.”
The Commissioner of the CRA, Bob Hamilton, also responded to welcome the upcoming review, pledging the agency’s full cooperation.
Why Does the NSIRA Review Matter?
As regular readers know, we have been actively monitoring concerns about charitable status becoming politicized. Where there are questions about fairness in the audit selection process, we have similar concerns: audits should also not become politicized. Every aspect of government interaction a charity can experience – registration, education letters, audit selection, revocation, general inquiries – should be free from political interference.
Along with the rest of the charitable sector, we will await the NSIRA review results. In the meantime, we’ll be sure to keep you updated with the latest developments.
Noteworthy is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Every organization’s circumstances are unique. Before acting on the basis of information contained in this blog, readers should consult with a qualified lawyer for advice specific to their situation.