Political activities have been a hot topic for the CRA's
Charities Directorate in the last few years.
In the CRA's 2015 Program Update, the Charities Directorate
stated that its recent political activity audit included 60
charities, with various results (i.e., education letters,
compliance agreements, revocations, etc.).
Generally, a registered charity may not engage in partisan
political activities, but a modest amount of political activities
are permitted (i.e., those political activities that
are non-partisan and connected and subordinate to the
charity's purposes). As a general guideline, a registered
charity cannot devote more than 10 percent of its total resources
to political activities (the CRA applies slightly different
percentages to small charities).
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.
Given the time and resources spent by the CRA educating the
charitable sector on the subject, most or all charities should not
be surprised to see this latest update from the CRA.
However, a surprising part of the Advisory may be the
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 reasonable time.
Charities should be aware of the CRA's views on social media
and political activities, and during the 2015 federal election
charities should be careful to ensure that any invited comments on
a charity's website, blog, Facebook page or Twitter
account do not conflict with the CRA's views on partisan
Charities may wish to consult their professional advisers if
there are any questions about compliance with the
Income Tax Act and the CRA's views.
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