CRA News 
April 2021 Charity & NFP Law Update
Published on April 29, 2021

By Jennifer M. Leddy


CRA Updates Charitable Activities Webpage
On April 1, 2021 the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) updated its “Charitable activities” webpage, by succinctly stating that charitable activities include: 1) a charity carrying on its own activities either through its own staff, volunteers and directors or through intermediaries, 2) making gifts to qualified donees (usually other registered charities) and 3) conducting public, policy and development activities. It also draws attention to two CRA Guidances on carrying on charitable activities through an intermediary outside and inside Canada, which were updated on November 27, 2021: Guidance CG-002, Canadian registered charities carrying on activities outside Canada and Guidance CG-004, Using an intermediary to carry on a charity’s activities within Canada. Both Guidances are discussed in Charity & NFP Law Bulletin No. 484. The webpage also includes information on election advertising and third-party registration with Elections Canada.

Budget 2021 Proposes Expanded Audit Authority for the CRA
The 2021 Federal Budget (“Budget 2021”) released on April 19, 2021 proposes to expand the scope of the CRA’s authority to audit taxpayers, including charities and not-for-profits. Amendments to the Income Tax Act (“ITA”) and Excise Tax Act (“ETA”), among other legislation, have been proposed in response to the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision in Canada (National Revenue) v Cameco Corporation. That decision called into question the CRA’s authority to require persons to answer all proper questions and to provide all reasonable assistance relating to the administration or enforcement of the ITA, as well as the extent to which CRA officials can require oral responses to questions.

Budget 2021 proposes to amend the ITA and ETA to require taxpayers to make their books and records available to CRA officials and to “give them all reasonable assistance to inspect the records, books, accounts and vouchers and answer all proper questions orally or in writing, in any manner specified by the [CRA officials].” The proposed amendments would also give CRA officials the authority to require persons to respond to their questions orally or in writing.

Virtual Web Assistant Now Available on Charities and Giving Webpage
As announced in the CRA’s Spring 2021 email newsletter, the CRA’s virtual web assistant, “Charlie the Chatbot”, is now available on the Charities and Giving and Contact Us webpages. Charlie the Chatbot will answer various frequently asked questions that users type into a chat window about tax filing, and has been expanded to help individuals navigate the Charities Directorate’s webpages about applying for charitable registration, filing returns, and education resources. At the time of writing, Charlie the Chatbot remains a pilot project for the CRA, and may not be able to answer all questions users ask.



Read the April 2021 Charity & NFP Law Update