[Feb 29 & Mar 1, 2024] In Dialogue: Canada Revenue Agency & Muslim-led Charity Sector

The Institute of Islamic Studies is excited to host a dialogue between the Canada Revenue Agency and Muslim-led charity sector.

Muslim communities had long expressed concerns about targeting, selection, and audits of their charitable organizations, but there was little research done to examine the specifics of this issue.

In 2021, the IIS & NCCM launched a landmark research report, “Under Layered Suspicion” that showed patterns of potential bias in the CRA’s audits of Muslim-led charities.

Since the launch of the report, others have issued reports and commentaries, and the federal government tasked the Office of the Taxpayer Ombudsperson (OTO) to conduct a review of the CRA’s audit practices. As that review was underway, the Minister of National Revenue appointed two Muslims with sector expertise/experience to the Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector, Anver Emon and Sheherazade Hirji; Ms. Hirji now serves as co-chair of the Committee. As the OTO review acknowledged it was unable to fulfill its mandate, the National Security Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) announced its own review. Amid these review processes, the Muslim Association of Canada launched Charter litigation claiming that its audit by the CRA violated section 2 and 15 of the Charter. Though the Ontario Superior Court found it was unable to adjudicate the matter, it offered observations not inconsistent with the reporting and analysis done to date.

Dialogue to address concerns & deepen understanding

Given the academic, policy, and media scrutiny of the CRA, there is (unsurprisingly) tension between the Muslim charitable sector and the Charities Directorate. Muslim-led charities are concerned that since the events of October 7, 2023, there is a return to post-9/11 suspicion of their activities. The Muslim charitable sector is caught in the middle, wanting to deliver domestic support and foreign relief, while fulfilling their obligations under the Income Tax Act and the Government’s anti-terrorism financing regime.

To this end, the IIS convenes members from both groups – the CRA’s Charities Directorate and leaders of Muslim-led charities – to better understand the particulars of the issues.

This two-day event is an opportunity for Muslim-led charities to gain a better understanding of the policies and procedures that the Charities Directorate must administer, as well as the resources the Directorate provides to help charities navigate tax compliance. Additionally, the CRA has an opportunity to learn about the unique experiences and challenges that Muslim-led charities face in fulfilling their mission and managing tax compliance in a time of growing Islamophobia that at times targets their work.

Agenda – Session 1: Plenary – Thursday, February 29, 2024

  • 6:00 pm — Dinner
  • 6:30 pm — Plenary Session
  • 8:45 pm — Concluding remarks and preview of Friday workshops
  • 9:00pm — Conclusion

Agenda – Session 2: Sub-Sector Working Group (limited capacity)* – Friday, March 1, 2024

  • 9:00am — Breakfast
  • 9:30am to 11:30 am — (small) Sub-sector working group discussions with Charities Directorate on unique issues to sub-sector
  • 11:30 am — Concluding remarks
  • 12:00pm — Conclusion*

*Please note, for observants, there are two Friday prayers held nearby at Hart House at 12:20 and 1:20pm. More info: http://www.uoftmsa.com/resources.html

84 Queens Park Circle
Falconer Hall, Solarium Room
Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

Panelists & Representatives

  • Sharmila Khare
    Director General, Charities Directorate
    Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs Branch, Canada Revenue Agency

  • Robert Delaney
    Director, Policy, Planning and Legislation Division, Charities Directorate
    Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs Branch, Canada Revenue Agency

  • Soren Halverson
    Assistant Commissioner
    Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs Branch, Canada Revenue Agency

  • Anver Emon
    Director, Institute of Islamic Studies & Professor of Law, UofT

  • Fahad Ahmad
    Assistant Professor, Criminology, Toronto Metropolitan University

  • Irfan Syed
    Principal, SyedLaw

  • Faghya Shafiq
    Chief Financial Officer, Islamic Relief Canada

Registration, survey, and collected questions
Please note that on the registration form, should you identify as a representative of a Muslim-led charitable organization, you have the option to provide a pre-written question, as well as indicate the top areas of concern.

The information provided in the registration survey will be kept confidential and will not be attributed to you or your organization. The information is meant to ensure that the thematic focus for the discussions will be as responsive to the needs of the Muslim-led charitable sector as possible.

*Registration for Session 2: Sub-Sector Working Groups
The sub-sector working group discussions will allow members of the Muslim-led charity sector to have a more focused discussion with the Charities Directorate regarding the particulars of their activities. For sector members who have an interest in joining Session 2 (morning of Friday, March 1), it is required that you indicate this on the registration form. Due to limited capacity, the organizers will then confirm your attendance for this session.

We look forward to hosting these sessions between the CRA and Muslim-led charity sector. For any questions related to this event please contact islamicstudies@utoronto.ca.