The debate about how "tricky" it is for the Director-General of CRA's Charity Directorate to consider political leanings when selecting charities for audits continues to rage in Canada. The outrage has reached the dreaded "gate" stage with respected opinion leaders asking "Why is this not considered Canada's own Auditgate scandal?"
In 2009, CRA began to publish on its website summaries of the reasons it had revoked registrations "for cause". There is nothing in the Income Tax Act which defines revocation "for cause". (In deed, it is alarming to think that charities could be revoked "without cause".) These are simply charities CRA wants to "name and shame".
When considering civil society organizations, there are few things to which government officials are more sensitive than political activities. It is doubtful that the activities considered unacceptably political by the Communist Party of China are any more overtly political than the impugned activities of charities in Canada.
The referendum in Scotland demonstrates the risks of England denying tax benefits to charities which promote indigenous Scottish values. Canada should have the self-confidence to respect the values and purposes which emanate from Quebec's people and legislature when granting tax benefits to registered charities.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue says that it is "absolutely shameful" to suggest that Canada Revenue Agency officials auditing charities could "somehow fall under political influence." This is a sideshow which is distracting the charitable sector from the real issues.
CRA is cherry-picking its jurisprudence to justify its program of political activities audits. It is ignoring these recent decisions from Australia, England, New Zealand and even Canada's Federal Court of Appeal. Disagreeing with the government on environmental issues is not necessarily a partisan activity.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has recently forced Oxfam Canada to exclude "preventing poverty" from their mission statement in order to keep their charity status. Now a fundamental question needs to be answered. Why does the CRA think that charities have to wait for individuals to fall into poverty's trap before the charities can help the disadvantaged? Isn't prevention better than a cure? The bigger concern, however, is with a black-and-white definition of poverty. The assumption that one is not poor one day, but wakes up to be poor the next day is completely flawed.
with the activities of its charities section having been so thoroughly politicized by the Harper government, we can no longer call the CRA an effective instrument of public policy. Its campaign of vexatious audits of the political activities of progressive charities represents has created a chill in political dissent, and is a new low even for the Conservative regime.