LETTER: CRA follows tough rules when it comes to charities

It is CRA’s duty to ensure this money is used for charitable purposes.

In response to your Aug. 11 editorial, I would like to set the record straight regarding registered charities in Canada.

Charities registered under the Income Tax Act are granted the privilege of providing tax deduction receipts to their donors.

In 2012, $14.24 billion was tax receipted from approximately 86,000 charities.

It is CRA’s duty to ensure this money is used for charitable purposes. The government has an obligation to taxpayers to manage this foregone tax revenue responsibly in the interest of all Canadians.

Registered charities are required by law to have exclusively charitable purposes. Provided a charity devotes substantially all of its resources to charitable purposes, it may also devote up to 10 per cent of resources to political activities that are non-partisan in nature and connected and subordinate to the charity’s purposes.

The CRA is guided by the Income Tax Act and common law in applying the rules related to registered charities and their political activity.

Budget 2012 provided additional resources to the CRA to increase transparency and reporting obligations for charities.

So far, the CRA has undertaken audits of more than 50 charities representing a cross-section of the sector. Throughout these audits, the CRA follows an education-first approach and uses the full range of tools at its disposal, including education letters and compliance agreements, to achieve compliance.

Regarding suggestions that the CRA is “refusing” to provide the names of the charities being audited, in fact the law prohibits the CRA from releasing this information. Moreover, disclosing details of how audit files are selected would compromise the effectiveness of the entire compliance regime.

I have absolute confidence in the professionalism, integrity, and fairness of CRA officials who administer the charities program.

The only politics in this story are the political motivations of the NDP.

Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, Minister of National Revenue