On tax relief for the Taxpayers Alliance

Now of course, on this matter I am highly partisan. My office used to be just across a narrow street from theirs and I\’ve puffed many a fag and shot the breeze on the pavement with them.

However, this is really a tad odd.

A campaign group which claims to represent the interests of ordinary taxpayers is using a charitable arm which gives it access to tax relief on donations from wealthy backers, the Guardian has learned.

The Conservative-linked Taxpayers\’ Alliance, which campaigns against the misuse of public funds, has set up a charity under a different name which can secure subsidies from the taxman worth up to 40% on individuals\’ donations. In one example, Midlands businessmen said they channelled funds through the Politics and Economics Research Trust at the request of the Taxpayers\’ Alliance after they asked the campaign group to undertake research into policies which stood to damage their business interests. The arrangement allowed the Taxpayers\’ Alliance to benefit from Gift Aid on the donations, a spokesman for the donors said.

Labour politicians attacked the apparent scheme as hypocritical, and tax accountants warned it could breach charity law, which states that organisations may not be charitable if they have political purposes.

I have a feeling that I might be wrong in this bit I thnink that that\’s not quite right. You cannot be a charity and have a *party* political aim. You can indeed have a political aim: trying to get the law changed to advance your cause is political and there a hundreds of charities out there trying to do that.

A quick trawl through the memory banks and the Charities Commission site gives us Demos, the new economics foundation, well, go to the site and plug in your favourite think tank of the left and see if they benefit from the same charity designation.

I cannot see that what the Taxpayer\’s Alliance does is any more or less political than what Demos and the nef do so tax relief for two should mean tax relief for the third.

My supposition here is that this is really just a piece of mud throwing. We don\’t like what they\’re saying to let\’s ignore the beam and point out the mote.

9 thoughts on “On tax relief for the Taxpayers Alliance”

  1. Brian, follower of Deornoth

    Oh silly, silly Tim.

    “trying to get the law changed to advance your cause” is perfectly fine provided it is a change the People desire.

    Otherwise it is nasty evil partisan Toryism, and that isn’t charitable.

  2. The distinction between political and non-political purposes is not particularly clear cut as far as charitable status is concerned. So, for instance, the British Humanist Association (which campaigns against faith schools) qualifies but the National Secular Society does not; it appears that the litmus test is that the latter campaigns for particular changes in the law, rather than for more amorphous goals.

  3. Considering the TPA take on “fake charities” it is rather amusing that they’ve been hoist by their own petard.

    I’m sure it’s legal, but I wonder what the TPA would say about this “waste of taxpayer’s money”.

  4. Has it been explained exactly how the TPA is being ‘subsidised’ bythe government?

    Does TPA receive a check each month frm HMRC -or- is this the type of ‘subsidy’ which is really that of an individual/organisation being allowed to keep more of their own funds in the first place?

  5. It’s another little bit of activism by the odious Suzy Leather, no doubt.

    I hope she’s got her CV well polished for when the election comes.

    On second thoughts, I hope she hasn’t: a period sleeping in the street could only do her good, I feel.

  6. If Tim’s point is correct why isn’t the TPA itself a charity?

    I love the comment on the guardian website – ‘why is this DIFFERENT from the SMITH INSITUTIE’ (that kind of spelling).

  7. The TPA is not a transparent organisation, so it is difficult to know whether their charitable wing has been claiming tax relief and charitable status for genuinely charitable activities or not. I note that The Guardian article points out that this TPA linked organisation provides very little information on how they use their donations. Given the TPA is a highly political and forthright campaign body with controversial views (now straying into anti-EU and environmental policy areas), it seems fair enough for The Guardian to raise this and the Charity Commission to investigate in order to check that tax relief and charitable status are not being claimed wrongly.

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