On August 21, 2015, the Canada Revenue Agency ("CRA")
published an important notice reminding charities of the rules in
the Income Tax Act that prohibit registered charities, and
charities' staff and volunteers in their capacity as
representatives of charities, from engaging in partisan political
activity. It is worth noting that the new CRA advisory contains
examples of partisan political activity that are not found in
CRA's existing policy on political activity, Policy Statement
Number CPS-022, which has been in effect since 2003.
The purpose of the advisory is to remind charities to be
especially diligent in monitoring for partisan political activity
in light of the upcoming federal election. CRA specifically
mentions that charities must delete or edit any partisan political
statements that members of the public make on their websites,
blogs, or social media platforms. Charities must also make sure
that any public comments made by their staff or volunteers
(including on social media) clearly indicate that the comments are
made in the personal capacity of a particular staff member or
The full text of the CRA's newly-published advisory is
Advisory on partisan political activities
Since we are in an election period, we remind registered
charities that they are prohibited from devoting any of their
resources to partisan political activities. A partisan political
activity is one that involves the direct or indirect support of, or
opposition to, any political party at any time, whether during an
election period or not, or a candidate for public office.
The prohibition on partisan political activity is a
long-standing requirement under the Income Tax Act.
Charities are responsible for their resources, and must devote
these resources to exclusively charitable purposes. Since they are
well placed to study, assess, and comment on government policies
that relate to their charitable programs, charities can engage in a
limited amount of non-partisan political activities. However,
charities that devote any resources to partisan political
activities may no longer be eligible for registration. A
charity's resources include funds, property, and personnel
(volunteers, employees, and directors).
Partisan political activity may include, but is not limited
providing financial or material
contributions to a political party or candidate
making public statements (oral or
written) that endorse or denounce a candidate or political
criticizing or praising the
performance of a candidate or political party
organizing an all-candidates meeting
or public forum in a way that could be seen to favour a political
party or candidate
inviting candidates to speak at
different dates or different events in a way that favours a
candidate or political party
posting signs in support of, or
opposition to, a candidate or political party
distributing literature or voter
guides that promote or oppose a candidate or political party
explicitly or by implication
explicitly connecting its views on an
issue to any political party or candidate
The restrictions on partisan political activities do not
prevent volunteers, employees, or directors of charities
helping in a political campaign, as
long as they do this in their personal capacity and do not suggest
they represent a charity
making partisan political comments in
public (including on social media), as long as they make it clear
they are speaking in their personal capacity and not as a
representative of a charity
Charities that use the Internet or social media to post
information should ensure the information does not contain partisan
political statements. Also, the information should not link to
statements made by a third party that support or oppose a candidate
or political party.
When a charity invites comments on its website, blogs, or on
social media, it should monitor them for partisan political
statements and remove, edit, or moderate such statements within a
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions or GST.
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, the Canada Pension Plan Act and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions.
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