Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson calls on charities to come forward with their experiences about the Canada Revenue Agency

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February 2022

In July 2021, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, requested the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson, François Boileau, examine concerns raised by certain Muslim–led charities, and engage other charities led by racialized communities, about their experiences with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). This was also confirmed in the mandate letter from the Prime Minister of Canada to the Minister dated December 16, 2021.

The main focus of the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson’s examination will be on the fairness of the CRA’s Charities Directorate’s audit process.

The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson has created a Special Ombudsperson Response Team (SORT) to primarily look at:

  • how the CRA selects registered charities for audit, and if the process is designed and applied fairly
  • if there are areas in the audit process that may be inequitable
  • the impact the audit process has on registered charities

The examination intends to answer the following questions:

  • Are charities selected for audit fairly?
  • How are audits carried out?
  • Is the audit process equitable?

In mid-December, the Ombudsperson provided the Minister an update on the progress of the examination. 

Preliminary meetings have taken place with CRA officials and various stakeholders, including charities, to understand their concerns and identify issues, if any. Such meetings are ongoing and will continue in 2022. The Office also reviewed published reports that brought to light many of the issues raised by some Muslim-led charities.

So far, some stakeholders have said that they were comfortable with the CRA’s processes, while others raised the following concerns:

  • sometimes the CRA’s charity audit process can last for years
  • the CRA’s audit results and compliance approaches may not be provided in a timely manner
  • the CRA’s compliance approaches are not consistent amongst charities
  • some charities felt they are being treated arbitrarily or unfairly by the CRA

The team will analyze the information received so far, as well as any new information obtained throughout the examination. 

A dedicated webpage has been created to keep Canadians informed of the examination’s progress. The webpage includes an online questionnaire to get feedback from the charitable sector about their service experiences with the CRA’s Charities Directorate. The responses will help identify potential areas of service improvement, and further opportunities for discussions. Those who wish to express their views can contact the Office and they will be met confidentially.

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