You've just joined the board of directors of a registered
charity. One of your organization's charitable purposes is to
protect the natural habitat of the white-collared amphibious wasp,
a not-quite-endangered species that lives between downtown Toronto
and the Toronto Islands in the summer months.
To advance the organization's objectives, the Board has
recently decided to call for action by the federal and provincial
governments. You've been tasked with arranging meetings with
Cabinet ministers, their staff and officials.
You're about to make your first call when it hits you: Is
this lobbying? Can we do that?
Canadian charities are allowed to lobby. In doing so, however,
they must respect certain restrictions and registration
requirements. Charities, their staff, directors, and supporters
should take time to understand their obligations under federal,
provincial, and municipal law.
A charity may be required to register and report its
lobbying activities. It may also be subject to limitations on its
political activities under the federal Income Tax
Earlier this year, the Canada Revenue Agency ended its targeted
audits of registered charities' political activities. Still,
the restrictions on politicking by charities have not been relaxed;
under the Income Tax Act and the CRA's Policy
Statement CPS-022, a registered charity may (in most cases) devote no more than 10%
of its resources – including its financial assets,
staff, volunteers, directors, premises, and equipment – to
political activities, and these activities must be
"non-partisan and connected and subordinate to the
Activities that constitute lobbying for the purposes of the
federal Lobbying Act, Ontario's Lobbyists
Registration Act, 1998, or a municipality's lobbying rules
will also constitute political activities under the Income Tax
Act. Charities must thus ensure that they not only
register and report certain lobbying activities, but also that
their lobbying activities do not push them over the 10% limit on
political activities under the Income Tax
Below is a summary of the restrictions and requirements under
federal and Ontario law. Charities must also ensure that their
activities comply with the purposes and restrictions set out in
their constating documents.
Note that, if your organization is lobbying a municipal or other
provincial/territorial government, different lobbying rules may
Ontario's lobbying rules will change on July 1,
2016. Once effective, the new rules will, among other
things, require charities to register once lobbying by their paid
employees reaches or exceeds 50 hours per year, rather than the
one-person-day-per-week threshold under the old provisions.
Read McCarthy Tétrault's analysis of the new rules
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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