The Clintons have decided that their charitable foundation should re-file several years' accounts with the IRS to be more transparent about the foundation's activities and sources of income.
In the USA, the IRS operates as both tax authority and charity regulator in connection with a charity's financial affairs, whereas in the UK those roles are undertaken by HMRC and the Charity Commission. The latter are actually about to start a review of the governance costs of larger charities, based on their accounts and Annual Returns, which charities have to submit each year and are available to the public. HMRC on the other hand operate quite differently, although they can use the same information and work with the Charity Commission when a charity is found not to be fully compliant with the legislation.
The UK tax system is based on self-assessment. Charities will only be asked to submit a tax return as part of a random selection process or if HMRC have information that suggests they should open an enquiry and they first need a tax return to do so. Otherwise, the charity has a legal obligation to notify HMRC of any tax liability they have incurred. HMRC also uncover potential tax liabilities as a result of carrying out Gift Aid audits. As well as checking that all the legislation and regulations relating to Gift Aid have been met, so that the charity is entitled to reclaim the related amount of tax, they will extend their enquiries into other aspects of the charity's financial affairs. The auditor will consider whether there is anything that would bring into question the entitlement to exemptions from tax tat is available to charities. The Trustees and senior management of a charity, as well as its advisers, therefore need to understand how some quite complex tax legislation applies to a charity and that tax exemption only applies to certain income and depends also on how that income is applied.
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