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Taxes, charities and the Charities Act

In the Seanad, Michael Mullins (FG, cultural and educational) appealed for improved tax reliefs for charities (Seanad Eireann, 4th October 2011, 499).  Charities were struggling to keep pace with increased demand for their services and they sought a 41% tax relief on donations, with all taxpayers, PAYE and self-employed, treated the same.  A threshold of €250 must be reached to qualify for relief on charitable donations, but in the current economic climate, this should be reduced to €100.  The Society of St Vincent de Paul paid €4m in irrecoverable VAT last year.


In the Dail, David Stanton (FG, Cork E) also questioned the €250 threshold (Dail Eireann, Debates, 5th October 2011, 697).  The Minister for Finance,  Michael Noonan, told him that 155,000 donors had claimed tax relief in 2009.  Reducing the threshold could significantly increase the cost of the scheme to the exchequer.  Representatives of the charities sector estimated in 2005 that reducing the threshold to €100 could double the cost.  Reducing the threshold would greatly increase the cost of administration.  The tax relief was already very generous and it was never envisaged that the scheme would subsidize smaller donations, especially if they would be made in any event.  He concluded by pointing out that the government had re-established the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising which would consider how philanthropy could be encouraged, including suggestions for tax changes. 


Asked about the progress of the Charities Regulation Authority, the Minister for Justice & Equality, Alan Shatter, told Tony McLoughlin (FG, Sligo Leitrim) that full implementation of the Charities Act would have new cost implications (Dail Eireann, Debates, 18th October 2011, 268).  This he was considering in the context of the review of spending of all departments.

> Codes of charitable fundraising practice: Dail Eireann, Debates, 5th October 2011, 768.