TaxPersonal TaxCall for review of charity tax breaks

Call for review of charity tax breaks

Treasury ministers are coming under mounting pressure to undertake the biggest re-examination of tax concessions for charities since the first statutory definition of charity in the 17th century.

The proposals are contained in a review conducted by the Institute of Philanthropy chaired by former senior judge Lord Browne-Wilkinson and could result in major charitable bodies, including many public schools losing important tax breaks.

Conversely, other not-for-profit bodies engaged in the public good, like sports clubs and some political lobbying organisations could receive help currently being denied to them.

But the report has not yet been drawn to the attention of ministers, for whom the proposals would create a can of worms. and could be seen as a direct attack on the private school system and a blow against ‘middle England’ whose approval is sought by the prime minister.

The report itself raises ‘perceived anomalies in the law’ citing independent schools and religious organisations which could be held to solely benefit their own members.

The religious bodies in particular would be able to appeal to a wide range of the electorate.

And, apart from amateur sporting organisations, many of the bodies could qualify for tax breaks which could help them fund political attacks on the government.

Chancellor Gordon Brown has already signalled his intention to extend the tax perks of charities to local sports clubs, although a Treasury source made it clear that ministers have not yet studied the review and so far have no proposals in this direction.

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