CRA Guts Dying With Dignity’s Long-Standing Charitable Status

by: Obert Madondo  | Jan 20, 2015

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) national headquarters in Ottawa. (Photo: OBERT MADONDO/The Canadian Progressive)

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) national headquarters in Ottawa. (Photo: OBERT MADONDO/The Canadian Progressive)

Dying With Dignity has announced that it’s losing its charitable status after a recent political-activity audit by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

The leading death with dignity lobby group vows to continue its work as a non-profit without registered charity status.

The Toronto-based charity announced on its website Tuesday that it received a CRA letter stating that the Dying With Dignity had been “registered in error” in 1982 and again 2011.

“Based on our findings, it is our opinion that the Organization was, in fact, registered in error and, as a result, its registration under the [Income Tax Act] should be annulled,” read the letter, dated Jan 16.

Dying With Dignity describes itself as follows:

“Founded in 1982, DWD Canada is a health and educational charity focused on promoting choice and dignity at end of life. The organization educates about the case for physician assisted dying, provides information about patient rights and advance care planning, and offers one-on-one support to individuals who are dying and want to do so on their own terms.”

The charity promotes its public education work through workshops and presentations, a quarterly newsletter, website and advance care planning resource kits.

The CRA determined that Dying With Dignity does not conduct “any activities advancing education in the charitable sense.”

Dying With Dignity is not planning to contest the CRA’s decision:

“After fully assessing all options, the charity’s board of directors has voted not to oppose the annulment, which is expected to come into effect on or after February 15.

“The change in status will not affect the tax deductibility of any donations made to DWD Canada prior to that date. Until the annulment is finalized, DWD Canada will remain a registered charity to which Canadians can make tax-deductible donations. After that point, the organization will become a non-profit without registered charity status.”

The CRA has lately come under fire for auditing environmental charities, foreign aid organizations and other groups seen as critical to the Harper government. The agency has insisted that its audits aren’t politically directed.

According to the CBC News, “The Stephen Harper government began its special audits of charities’ political activities in 2012, under an $8-million program that initially targeted environmental groups, then expanded to human rights, poverty, religious and other charities. Some 60 such groups are to be audited by 2017.”

The Ottawa-based Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) is one of the organizations under CRA scrutiny. Last fall, more than 420 Canadian academics wrote to the federal Minister of National Revenue demanding that the federal agency immediately stop auditing the respected left-leaning think-tank.

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Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow me on Twitter: @Obiemad