Muslim body asks court to stop federal audit

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA. Canada’s largest Muslim community organization is suing in hopes of stopping a federal tax audit of its activities as a registered charity. The Muslim Association of Canada (AMC) claims that its audit is discriminatory and violates its rights.

The CMA has filed a Notice of Application with the Ontario Supreme Court in hopes of stopping a tax audit conducted by Revenue Canada seven years ago. The association, which provides community services, education and youth development, says more than 150,000 Canadians visit its mosques, schools and community centers every year.

In its petition, the organization claims that the tax service’s approach “has been tainted with systemic bias and Islamophobia” since its inception in 2015.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the CMA said that while a decision has yet to be made, the preliminary report that has not been submitted threatens “completely unreasonable extreme sanctions.”

The revenue agency, which will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations in court, has in the past insisted that it does not select organizations for audit based on their faith or their values, adding that it is strongly committed to diversity, inclusion and the fight against racism.

In its arguments about violating its statutory rights, the CMA cites various examples where it would be subject to double standards compared to other religious groups.

“Facts that are harmless and would be considered as such by a religious organization of a religion other than Islam have been retained as grounds for suspicion” regarding AMC, can we read in the quote attributed to attorney Jeff. McCarthy Tetro Hall.

“This test is a classic example of prejudice and discrimination,” adds Mee Hall.

Among the examples given is the fact that the celebration of Eid is not considered a religious activity, but a social one. They will also be criticized for the fact that sports and recreational activities for young people are not charitable activities.

Finally, the IRS will seek to establish links between AMC and foreign entities through four emails selected from tens of thousands of analyzed exchanges.

“In each of these and other examples, the CRA perceives these perfectly normal interactions as ominous and misleading,” the association denounces in a press release.

In its filing with the court, the organization argues that the screening would never have been carried out in this way if it had targeted any other major religious denomination.

“The audit report found no evidence that (AM) is involved in the financing of terrorism or is associated with terrorist organizations. However, the audit report relies on Islamophobic sources and discredited newspaper articles to support its claims.

Last summer, about 100 Muslim and civil society organizations signed a letter sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling for reform of the Internal Revenue Service’s auditing practices, which they say target unfair Muslim bodies.

The groups are also calling on the government to reverse the Internal Revenue Service decision that suspended Human Concern International’s right to issue receipts for tax purposes.

Revenue Minister Diane Lebutilier agreed during a summit on Islamophobia to ask taxpayer ombudsman François Boileau to conduct a systemic analysis of the issue.

Preliminary meetings were held on this process with the participation of all parties, the ombudsman’s office recently reported. Further discussions are planned and organizations are invited to complete online questionnaires to share their experiences.