‘Big Society’ hits back at Coalition’s Charity Tax #giveitbackgeorge

by Stephen Tall on April 8, 2012

Four days ago I wrote that the ‘Charity Tax’ — the Coalition’s limiting of tax-relief on large philanthropic donations — “has not attracted mainstream media attention”. I’m glad to say that has now changed, with The Observer dedicating its front page lead to the story:

… [hundreds of groups] across the charity, aid, arts, health, university and church sectors … are reacting with unprecedented anger to George Osborne’s “charity tax” – a cap on tax relief for wealthy donors. A survey of wealthy philanthropists by the Charities Aid Foundation has suggested that eight out of 10 will rethink their charitable donations because of the changes. The cap on tax relief of £50,000 or 25% of annual income will, those surveyed said, force them to cut their donations by as much as 40%.

The contradictions in the government’s approach have left the charity and other sectors which are dependent on donations bemused as well as furious. At a time when the Treasury is tightening the purse strings on public funding, ministers have gone out of their way to say they want philanthropists to fill the gap. Yet the Treasury then imposes tax rules which will deter them from doing so – and which run directly contrary to David Cameron’s vision of a “big society” driven by vibrant charities and voluntary organisations.

As John Low, the Charities Aid Foundation’s chief executive notes:

People affected by this change give hundreds of thousands or even millions of pounds to charity – overwhelmingly more than they might receive from tax relief on their donations. Without their support, help for some of the most vulnerable will be damaged, vital medical research will not be carried out, and whole swaths of small charities at the heart of the big society will be placed in jeopardy, not to mention education, the arts and overseas aid and development.

It is not the rich who will suffer loss as a result of this tax on charitable giving, it will be the most vulnerable in our communities and society at large who will be the losers.

To show your support for the ‘Give it back George’ campaign for the Government to drop the charity tax, please visit this site and sign the petition.