Your Opinion Matters: CRA Consultations on Political Activities is Now Live

Authored by Philip Milley, Associate Director of Legal Affairs

On September 27, 2016 the Minister of National Revenue announced the launch of consultations to clarify the rules regarding the involvement of charities in political activities. As part of this engagement process, the CRA is collecting feedback from charities and the public on the following questions:

  • 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?
  • Is the CRA’s policy guidance on political activities clear, useful, and complete?
  • Which formats are the most useful and effective for offering policy guidance on the rules for political activities?
  • Should changes be made to the rules governing political activities and, if so, what should those changes be?

Feedback received will be considered in the development of policy, guidance and/or educational resources for charities. CRA will collaborate with the Department of Finance to engage with charities to clarify the rules governing political activities.  Online consultations are now open and feedback must be submitted before November 25, 2016 [UPDATE: Deadline extended to December 14, 2016]. In-person consultations – which will be held in six cities across Canada – will follow at a later date.

These consultations come as the result of the Government’s commitment to modernize the rules governing the charitable sector. Currently, registered charities are allowed to engage in non-partisan political activities within certain limits. They are not allowed to engage in partisan political activities. CRA’s current position on charities engaged in political activities is contained in Policy CPS-022 and resources for charities about political activities can be accessed here.

CRA recognizes that charities play a critical role in society and positively contribute to public policy. While some charities have engaged in political activities without hesitation, the rules surrounding political activities have long been a point of concern for many others. Also, some charities are unaware of the rules that permit limited participation in political activities and often refrain from contributing to public debate. Regardless of which situation may apply, this is an unique opportunity for your feedback to be considered in the development of policy for charities.

These online consultations are a great opportunity for charities and individuals to have their voice heard on the current rules and where any boundaries on political activities should be. It is important to note that all submissions received are not confidential and may be disclosed under the Access to Information Act. Comments must be emailed to: consultation-policy-politique@cra-arc.gc.ca on or before November 25, 2016 [UPDATE: Deadline extended to December 14, 2016].

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.