Lax Tax Facts

Even when Gerry Klein gets it right, he gets it wrong.

He’s right that the Senate reform would provide more balance in the federal government against the prime minister’s office, but he just can’t help but control his lazy-ass journalism.

Among the various Conservative scandals (and “scandals”) The Finger uses to make his case, he comes up with this doozy:

Last year’s budget document included a clause giving Revenue Canada the power to go after charities in what clearly was an attack on environmental groups that opposed pipelines. It’s worth mentioning that the Obama administration is facing its greatest scandal over the Internal Revenue Service doing that very thing to various Tea Party groups that claimed charitable status.

Nope. There is no reasonable comparison between the investigation of Canada Revenue Agency on environmental groups and what the IRS was doing in the United States.

The CRA categorizes non-profits as not-for-profits or registered charities. The former category has its own set of rules and regulations which allows groups to operate efficiently, pay limited or no income tax and receive donations, but the donors do not receive tax-deductible receipts.

Registered charities, on the other hand, are to be dedicated toward charitable activities and are allowed to issue tax receipts. These organizations cannot spend more of 10% of its revenue on advocacy. This is the crux of the recent investigations into environmental groups, several of whom were accused of spending most of their budget on advocacy, among other things. The scandal here, then, isn’t that the Conservative government was targeting environmental groups maliciously, but that the CRA was allowing them to operate without verifying their compliance.

Meanwhile, the president of the United States has directed the IRS — likely personally — to harass political and ideological opponents who had not broken any laws or regulations. There is little doubt that the administration and the IRS broke laws in this witch hunting exercise, though the question remains on which heads will role.

In other words, the CRA audits of environmental groups and the IRS scandal are like apples and … well, whatever is the complete opposite of apples. Bowling balls, maybe.

The Finger might also want to consider the fact that the United States has far stronger checks and balances through the constitutionally defined separation of powers — including an independent Senate — and that never stopped the administration from abusing its tax-collection authority.

I would just be satisfied if Klein could just get his facts straight before taking yet another cheap smear on a conservative politician. Here’s a good place for him to start.

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