Allowing Charities to “Do More Good” through Carrying on Unrelated Businesses


  • Tamara Larre University of Saskatchewan College of Law



Social enterprise, Taxation of charities / Entreprise sociale, Imposition d’œuvres caritatives


One way in which charities could increase their positive impact on society is by raising revenue through carrying on a business. Current income-tax legislation in Canada, however, restricts the ability of charities to do so by prohibiting them from carrying on an unrelated business. This article reviews the current law and explores the options for loosening this restriction, while at the same time addressing the potential problems associated with charity-operated businesses. In the end, the author recommends that all charities except private foundations be permitted to operate small businesses, so long as the business activities are disclosed to donors.

Les œuvres caritatives pourraient augmenter leur impact positif sur la société en faisant accroître leur revenu au moyen d’une activité commerciale. Au Canada, cependant, la loi actuelle de l’impôt sur le revenu restreint la liberté des œuvres caritatives en les interdisant de gérer un commerce sans lien avec leur activité principale. Cet article passe en revue la loi actuelle et explore les options pour libéraliser la loi, tout en recensant les problèmes potentiels associés aux commerces qui seraient gérés par des œuvres caritatives. Au bout du compte, l’auteur recommande que toute œuvre caritative à l’exception de la fondation privée ait la permission de tenir une petite entreprise, en autant que l’œuvre mette ses donateurs au courant de son activité commerciale.


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