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UK Voluntary Sector Slams Tax Relief And Gift Aid Plans

By Amanda Banks,, London

12 September 2013

An umbrella organization that promotes best practice in finance management in the UK voluntary sector has slammed Government proposals for tax relief on social investments as "overly restrictive." It also highlighted concerns over proposed changes to Gift Aid, by which the value of monetary gifts from UK taxpayers to charities is increased by charities being able to claim back a gross amount based on the basic rate tax paid by the donor.

Tax breaks for social investment were announced by the Government in June. However, the Charity Finance Group (CFG), which represents 2,200 senior finance professionals, believes that restrictions are likely to "severely undermine" the potential of the relief to help charities expand or innovate.

The body argues that simple unsecured loans should qualify for the relief; that the maximum level of investment permitted through the relief should be raised; that large charities should be allowed to receive investment through the relief; and that proposed exclusions on qualifying activities should be removed. It also calls for more to be done to increase demand for social investment among charities.

Meanwhile, HMRC proposals regarding Gift Aid recently came under fire at a tax conference organized by CFG. Daniel Fluskey of the Institute of Fundraising criticized the idea of a two-tier system, by which Gift Aid liability would be switched from donors to charities for amounts under a certain level. Fluskey argued that this would be too complicated and make it less likely for donors to engage.

His concerns were echoed by Nick Aldridge of the PayPal Giving Fund, who added that donors would be put off by a phrase in a proposed new model Gift Aid declaration that said: "I understand HMRC will check and may tell the charity if I had not paid enough tax."

CFG has also called for the Government to develop a comprehensive program of early stage support for small charities which are looking to expand; to increase support to frontline charities to help them access social investment (such as expanding the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund); to open dialogue with the four major social banks to explore the possibility of greater levels of unsecured lending to charities; to provide funding for a training program for charities on social investment; and to undertake research into the kinds of social investment which would best meet the needs of charities in different circumstances.

TAGS: tax | United Kingdom | social economy | HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) | tax breaks | HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

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