Apr 10 2011 – A Mississauga-based charity that runs projects in the Palestinian territories is no longer allowed to give out tax receipts following a decision from the Canada Revenue Agency.
The agency announced its decision to revoke the licence of the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy Canada (IRFAN-Canada) in the government publication Canada Gazette.
The group had already received a one-year suspension in April 2010 for failing to keep proper records.
The decision follows several years of tax audits and litigation prompted by politicians’ claims the charity has links to Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by Canada, the U.S., the European Union and Israel.
In 2004, Stockwell Day, at the time an Opposition MP, alleged in Parliament the group had ties to Hamas. He asked the Liberal government to investigate.
Day referenced a Privy Council report sent to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in 2000 that listed four Canadian groups with possible links to terrorism, one of which was the Povrel Jerusalem Fund for Human Services.
Political action groups, including the Canadian Coalition for Democracies, claim the Povrel Jerusalem Fund, which is no longer operating, was taken over by IRFAN.
But Naseer Syed, a lawyer for IRFAN, said it was formed independently of the Povrel Jerusalem Fund by different people, although it did later acquire some of the Fund’s assets.
IRFAN denies having any ties to Hamas.
Organization officials have appealed the Canada Revenue Agency decision, and asked the Federal Court of Appeal to stay the licence revocation until the outcome of all their appeals, Syed said.
“Although no longer a registered charity, IRFAN . . . is still a legal not-for-profit organization permitted to collect donations and it will continue to provide humanitarian relief to those in need to the best of its ability,” Syed said in an email. “Although it has a number of projects, IRFAN is particularly concerned about the immediate welfare of approximately 4,000 orphans that are dependent on it for regular support from sponsors.”
Organization officials are also concerned about the completion of a girls’ school being built in Battir, a West Bank village, Syed said.
In 2009, IRFAN donated $1.2 million U.S. to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which works with Palestinian refugees, for construction of the school.