Political activities self-assessment tool

A charity can carry on non-partisan political activities within the limits of the Income Tax Act. This self-assessment tool will help you determine if:

  • your charity is carrying on political activities;
  • any political activities are being carried out within the limits set out in the Income Tax Act; and
  • your charity is accounting properly for the resources it is using on political activities.

For an explanation of the limits that apply to charities' political activities, see Policy Statement CPS-022, Political Activities.

This self-assessment tool will help you determine quickly whether the way your charity uses its resources for political activities is likely to raise concerns with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Note, however, that to be sure that your charity's political activites are within the limits set out in the Income Tax Act, the CRA will have to examine the activities in detail.

Self-assessment

Section 1

Our charity:

  • explicitly communicates a call to political action (that is, encourages the public to contact an elected representative or public official to urge him or her to retain, oppose, or change the law, policy, or decision of any level of government in Canada or a foreign country);

  • explicitly communicates to the public that the law, policy, or decision of any level of government in Canada or a foreign country should be retained, opposed, or changed;

  • explicitly indicates in any of its materials (internal or external) that the intention of any of its activities is to incite, or organize to put pressure on, an elected representative or public official to retain, oppose, or change the law, policy, or decision of any level of government in Canada or a foreign country; or

  • made a gift to another qualified donee to support the political activities of the recipient.

If any of the above statements are true, our charity is carrying on a political activity. The only exception might be if the activity in question is a representation made to an elected representative or public official (see Section 2).

If none of the above statements are true, our charity is not carrying on a political activity. There is no need to complete the rest of the self-assessment unless our charity makes representations to elected representatives or public officials, in which case we should complete Section 2.

Section 2

Our charity makes representations to elected representatives or public officials (see section 7.3 of Policy Statement CPS-022). These representations are always:

  • connected to our charity’s charitable purposes (connected means related to and supporting a charitable purpose, and a reasonable way to achieve that purpose);

  • subordinate to our charity’s charitable purposes (subordinate means subservient to a charity's charitable purpose, or a minor focus of the charity);

  • well-reasoned (well-reasoned means based on factual information that is methodically, objectively, fully, and fairly analyzed, and that presents and addresses serious arguments and relevant facts to the contrary);

  • free of information that our charity knows, or ought to know, is false, inaccurate, or misleading; and

  • non-partisan (non-partisan means never directly or indirectly supports or opposes a political party or candidate for public office).

If all of the above statements are true, our charity’s representations to elected representatives or public officials are considered to be charitable.

If any of the above statements are not true, our charity’s representations are not considered to be charitable. We should revise our charity's representations so that they meet all of the criteria in section 7.3 of Policy Statement CPS-022.

Section 3

Our charity carries on political activities. These political activities are always:

  • connected to our charity's charitable purposes (connected means related to and supporting a charitable purpose, and a reasonable way to achieve that purpose);

  • subordinate to our charity's charitable purposes and activities (subordinate means subservient to a charity's charitable purpose, or a minor focus of the charity); and

  • non-partisan (non-partisan means never directly or indirectly supports or opposes a political party or candidate for public office).

Our charity devotes no more than 10% of its total resources to political activities. (A charity’s resources include all of its financial resources, as well as everything it can use to further its purposes, such as capital assets, staff, volunteers, directors, donated resources, and equipment.)

Note

There are a few situations where a charity can devote more than 10% of its resources to political activities. See section 9 of Policy Statement CPS-022, Political Activities.

If all of the above statements are true, our charity’s political activities fall within the limits set out in the Income Tax Act.

If any of the above statements are not true, our charity's political activities probably do not fall within the limits set out in the Income Tax Act. Our charity is at risk for sanctions, up to and including revocation of its registered status. We should review our charity's political activities to make sure they comply with the limits set out in Policy Statement CPS-022.

Section 4

Our charity can account for the use of its resources for political activities in its books and records. The CRA recognizes that charities may adopt different methods to track the use of their resources. However, our charity must be able to show which resources were used, how they were used, and for what activity. For example, our charity examines and tracks the following types of resources for political activities (as applicable):

  • financial resources: all financial expenditures, including salary and other human resources costs;

  • capital assets, such as the percentage or amount of building and office space, as well as proceeds and withdrawals from our charity’s investments, that are used for political activities; and 

  • volunteer time and donated resources, such as the percentage or amount of volunteer hours, and of donated resources, that are devoted to carrying on our charity's political activities. 

If all of the above statements that apply to our charity are true, and our charity also tracks the use of any other types of resources that do not appear on the list, our charity will be able to account for the use of its resources for political activities.

If any of the above statements that apply to our charity are not true, or if our charity does not track the use of any other types of resources that do not appear on the list, our charity may not be able to account for the use of its resources for political activities. We should correct our charity's record-keeping, so that it complies with the requirements set out in Keeping Records.

Section 5

Our charity has reported its political activities on Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return, by:

  • filling out section C5, Political Activities;

  • reporting any expenditures on political activities on line 5030 of Schedule 6, Detailed financial information (if it applies, and if our charity has made expenditures on political activities); and

  • filling out all the sections of Schedule 7, Political activities, that apply to our charity.

If all of the above statements are true, our charity has met its Form T3010 reporting requirements for political activities.

If any of the above statements are not true, our charity has not met its Form T3010 reporting requirements for political activities. It could be at risk for sanctions for filing an incomplete or inaccurate return. We should correct our charity's reporting so that it is in line with the requirements set out in Guide T4033, Completing the Registered Charity Information Return. Also, we should correct any past returns using Form T1240, Registered Charity Adjustment Request.

Form T3010

For fiscal periods ending on or after January 1, 2013, your charity has to use Form T3010 (13) or Form T3010 (14).

If your charity has problems complying

Like other CRA programs and services, the charities program has been designed to promote voluntary compliance. The CRA encourages charities to correct any omissions or errors in their past activities or reporting. When appropriate to the circumstances, our objective is to work with charities to resolve difficulties and get them back on track.

To discuss a compliance problem or concern, contact the Charities Directorate. Our agents will address your concerns or refer you to someone who will.

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