By Colombo Telegraph –
“The federal government revoked a Toronto-area Tamil foundation’s charitable status over the weekend, saying it provided financial support for groups that are part of the support network for the Tamil Tigers.” Toronto based The Star reports.
According to a Canada Revenue Agency audit, the Canadian Foundation for Tamil Refugee Rehabilitation (CAFTARR) provided more than $700,000 to organizations outside Canada that were “non-qualified donees.”
The CRA served notice of the revocation, effective Dec. 10, last month. It first warned of potential revocation in November 2009, after conducting an audit of the foundation’s activity from June 2004 to May 2008.
The foundation provided $620,000 in tsunami relief money to the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) in May 2005 and January 2006, and $113,930 to the Ramakrishna Mission of Sri Lanka from February 2005 to June 2007, according to the audit. The donations made up 81 per cent of the foundation’s total revenue during the period reviewed.
In a letter to the foundation’s lawyer, the CRA said it believes “on the basis of publicly available information” that both the TRO and the Mission are part of the Tamil Tigers’ support network.
Officially known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the militant organization operated from 1976 until 2009 when it was defeated by the Sri Lankan military. The Harper government listed it as a terrorist organization in 2006.
In its response to the CRA, the foundation said it “has no ties to any terrorist or political group” and the TRO was a registered voluntary social services organization in Sri Lanka whose activities received recognition from the Canadian, U.S. and Sri Lankan governments. It also said it had an agreement with the Mission since 1988 to fund a children’s welfare program in Sri Lanka.
The CRA also says the organization failed to maintain adequate books and records and improperly issued tax receipts on behalf of a third party. The revocation means the group is no longer exempt from income tax and can no longer issue donation tax receipts.
CAFTARR was founded in 1985 and has a mailing address in Mississauga. Its president, Arunasalam Arasaratnam, declined to comment.
The foundation’s lawyer Hari S. Nesathurai said he couldn’t discuss the case specifically without his client’s permission, but in his general experience the CRA charities directorate has been “unreasonable” and “very dogmatic.”
Canada has one of the largest Sri Lankan Tamil populations outside Sri Lanka, with most living in the GTA.