Federal Government Withdraws Appeal Related to Political Activities of Charities

The federal government has dropped an appeal of a court ruling that overthrew a section of the Income Tax Act (ITA) limiting the political activities of charities. While in agreement with the policy direction of the ruling, the government initially decided to appeal based on issues related to the logic and rationale of the decision. The government is now withdrawing its appeal because of a belief that little would be gained by the effort.

In December 2018, ITA changes removed restrictions on charities from participating in nonpartisan public policy dialogue and development activities. The withdrawal of the appeal makes these legislative changes not only a matter of good public policy, but an issue of fundamental rights.

While charities can engage in unlimited public policy dialogue activities without fear of future arbitrary limits, they must ensure that these activities are:

  • related to and support that organization’s stated charitable purpose(s) and,

  • nonpartisan (this includes a ban on both direct and indirect partisanship).

For more information on these requirements, please see Canada Revenue Agency’s draft guidance documents.