Then they came for those who fight poverty, and help the poor. Now they’ve come for the birdwatchers.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists, a registered charity, is apparently at risk of breaking tax agency rules that limit so-called political or partisan activities. Earlier this year, tax auditors sent a letter to the 300-member group, warning about political material on the group's website. The stern missive says the group must take appropriate action as necessary "including refraining from undertaking any partisan activities," with the ominous warning that "this letter does not preclude any future audits."
The letter arrived just after the club had written directly to two federal cabinet ministers to complain about government-approved chemicals that damage bee colonies."You can piece together the timing," said Roger Suffling, a member of the group and an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo. "The two things are very concurrent."
IF writing to a minister about a concern you or you group has about chemical use and environmental concerns trigger this kind of response, whether directed by the Minister or simply considered by the CRA as a political activity, then we are in big trouble. Perhaps all charities need to register as a political party who are exempt from such rules on political activity but can issue tax receipts and perhaps the CRA should be investigated for 'political activity'!
The Canada Revenue Agency launched a special program of so-called political activity audits after Budget 2012 provided $8 million for the project, later topped up to $13.4 million. Canada Revenue Agency officials say they do not target any one charitable sector, and are choosing groups impartially, without input from the minister's office.
They are 'choosing groups impartially' and yet a seemingly disproportionate of charities and groups who have openly voiced concerns about scientific and environmental issues have been 'targeted', but it would seem very few who are clearly very active on 'political issues' but are supportive of the Harper Regimes agenda have been threatened. Just a coincidence or just random luck, I don’t think so!
"Reminder letters” are issued to some groups to warn that Canada Revenue Agency analysts have been watching their political activities, and may launch full audits if things aren't rectified. So far, 23 such letters have been issued, including to the Kitchener-Waterloo group, though the agency won't say exactly which groups are on the list, citing the confidentiality provisions of the Income Tax Act.
EDIT - Alison at Creeside shows exactly how selective these audits are