Regular voyeurs of this little patch of bloggy real estate will know that, recently, I've been asking questions of the odd, puzzling -- one might even say sketchy -- claims from Rebel News that donations to their "Fight the Fines" campaign are eligible for CRA-approved charitable tax receipts by directing said donations to an entirely unaffiliated registered charity, "The Democracy Fund."
I say all of this is odd and puzzling since Canada Revenue Agency, in the midst of its explanation of how registered charities work, is absolutely clear that you are not allowed to play games with your charitable status, and that includes loaning out that status or letting others ride your coattails for the sake of issuing tax receipts they have no right to issue:
In any event, Rebel News' Ezra Levant has been making exactly this kind of assurance, and if you're wondering how that can be legal, here's how one might interpret it ... and here's how that tortured interpretation finally appears to explode in flames.
The above bizarre charity-related circle jerk could conceivably be legal as long as "The Democracy Fund" was, in fact, the entity doing all the collecting of donations. At the risk of over-simplifying, if The Democracy Fund is going to hand out tax receipts, they're the ones who need to accept the donations. Quite simply, you cannot issue tax receipts for anything other than money that came into you directly; that's black-and-white CRA law, and Ezra appears to know this full well since, while promising charitable tax receipts, Ezra assures one that you are, in fact, donating to The Democracy Fund as required by law:
This is important since it establishes that Ezra is well aware of the law and that tax receipts from The Democracy Fund absolutely require donations to The Democracy Fund. Keep that in mind for what happens next as, when I awoke this morning, I had in my inbox a note from an anonymous tipster who decided to test Rebel News' "Donate to the Democracy Fund" campaign to see how it played out. As the kids say, you'll never believe what happened next.
Said tipster very carefully made a $20 donation to Ezra's campaign, and did it through the web page linked to above, so it is beyond dispute that the impression being deliberately left with donors is that, if they use that web page, their donation is going, not to Rebel News, but to The Democracy Fund, which is what makes their donation eligible for a tax receipt. Make sure you understand that -- Rebel News is emphatic that your tax receipt depends on you donating, not to Rebel News, but to The Democracy Fund. And all that is critically important for what happened next.
We return to anonymous tipster, who reports that, shortly after donating $20 ostensibly to The Democracy Fund, he received a polite email thanking him for his donation and assuring him of an eventual tax receipt to be issued by The Democracy Fund ... the sender of the email being "firstname.lastname@example.org." That is already somewhat problematic since it suggests there is an unseemly level of entanglement between Rebel News and The Democracy Fund, to the extent that you send money to The Democracy Fund, and you get a thank-you note from Rebel News. It seems just a bit sketchy, but it's possible that it's still fine, if one accepts that Rebel is simply thanking people for their contribution. And then the hammer fell.
A couple days later, said tipster finally saw the charge on his Visa card for his $20 donation. Please don't make me explain why this is just wrong:
In short, despite Rebel News' emphatic assurances that donations eligible for tax receipts were going straight to The Democracy Fund (again, as required by law), those payments were, in fact, being received and processed by Rebel News.
At this point, it seems clear that this entire campaign is being run fully and completely by Der Rebel, who is doing all of the promotion and -- more disturbingly -- collection of donations that are legally required to be done by The Democracy Fund. And it seems clear that the participation of the mysterious Democracy Fund is limited to (from what I can see) simply being told who to eventually hand out tax receipts to come next year tax time. So this seems like a good time to remind all what the CRA has to say about these sorts of shenanigans:
At this point, it would seem the right time for the appropriate authorities to step in and take a good, long look at registered charity The Democracy Fund to see what other games they might be playing. And, no, as hard as it might be to believe, we're not done here.
P.S. I am reminded of newly-minted, utterly unqualified Rebel News doofus Adam Soos (pronounced "dumb shit"), who very, very, very unwisely publicly assured one and all:
Well, Adam, I think we've established that that's not true:
So you might want to go off and rethink that story, before you have to explain all this to the Canada Revenue Agency, Charities Directorate.
I'm just trying to be helpful.