on Wednesday, 23 October 2019 at 11.00 am by Peter Owen
categorised as Opinion
Rosie Harper ViaMedia.News “Don’t Go Listening to Lies….”
Stephen Kneale Christian Today Is your church too dependent on charitable status?
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Open Letter to Keith Makin re: John Smyth Review
I know that the Gift Aid arising from Charitable Status in my parish gives us another approx £20,000 per annum to use for the mission of the Church. If it is there, use it. I don’t see Stephen’s argument. If Eton can claim Gift Aid to enhance the education of the already too wealthy, we, being ‘as wise as serpents’ should take every advantage of what is on offer from Caesar. We would be poor stewards if we failed to do so.
Ah, the FIEC. It’s instructive to see the statement of belief that this body put together. Locally it refuses to work with any of the other denominations because we either add to the Gospel (eg belief in baptismal regeneration) or take away from the Gospel (eg have reservations about biblical inerrancy) or because we are prepared to work with denominations which fall foul of those rules. Kneale may have a point about the ambiguity and potential Faustian pact inherent in church-state relations, but he’s speaking from a perspective which refuses to see God at work in any other than the… Read more »
I’m afraid I know nothing of the FIEC, but Stephen Kneale’s article didn’t seem to me particularly relevant in an Anglican context. There is a public benefit requirement applying to all charities. As John Wallace points out, Gift Aid is the chief (only?) benefit which the C of E receives from its charitable status. The Charities Act 2011 largely excludes C of E land and buildings and Diocesan Boards of Finance from its scope. It seems possible that other denominations might possibly fare better. Stephen Kneale’s starting point involved the tax position in the USA. Their equivalent of Gift Aid… Read more »
Diocesan Boards of Finance are not, I think, exempt from the Charities Act 2011, and are not exempt or excepted charities. They are registered charities and registered companies. The precise details will no doubt vary depending on the particular Articles of Association and constitution, but in this diocese (Ely) the directors of the Board of Finance are at the same time the directors of the limited company and the trustees of the charity (and also the Bishop’s Council and Standing Committee). PCCs are excepted from having to register with the Charities Commission unless their annual income exceeds £100k, but they… Read more »
My apologies: I clearly misread (or didn’t read carefully enough) section 10 (2) (b) of the 2011 Act the exception in relation to “any Diocesan Board of Finance, or any subsidiary of such a Board, in respect of the diocesan glebe land of the diocese … “.
Well-spotted, and as you have noted that exemption is not a full exemption of DBFs, but only in respect of glebe land. (But I am not a lawyer or an accountant, just a DBF director and trustee.)
Mr Kneale seems to regard the tax benefits pertaining to charitable status as a form of state subsidy. If making use of what one is legally entitled to use is a privilege rather than a right, then there is no such thing as private property and everything belongs to the state. Churches, and individuals, would have no right to anything at all. If a man works Monday to Thursday to earn money for himself and his family, and Friday to earn money to give to his church, or other non-commercial organisation, then UK law is that he pays income tax… Read more »
The Charities Act contains a long list of descriptions of charitable purposes. The first four are: (a) the prevention or relief of poverty; (b) the advancement of education; (c) the advancement of religion; (d) the advancement of health or the saving of lives; In relation to the advancement of religion, it has this to say: … in paragraph (c), “religion” includes— (i) a religion which involves belief in more than one god, and (ii) a religion which does not involve belief in a god, Thus ‘advancement’ is the operative word, both in relation to the C of E (and others)… Read more »
For higher income taxpayers, the situation for charitable giving in the UK can more closely approximate that of the United States. Through organizations like the Charities Aid Foundation, it is possible to arrange charitable giving through salary sacrifice. The money deducted is exempt from income tax, though not National Insurance, as I recall. For those giving by standing order etc. and “Gift Aid”ing, 40% rate taxpayers can receive a 15% tax rebate on whatever they give. So the charitable status of a church does not just affect Gift Aid but affects what your parishioners feel they can give. I do… Read more »
I wouldn’t wish to be too categorical about the different US system. If he lived here, my US friend would be a higher income taxpayer and he described his own situation for giving. At that level, the two systems appear to operate similarly.
>>With median rents in our parish being approximately 2/3 of median income, we are reliant on a small (and committed) group of top wage earners (and a wealthy pensioner or two) to keep solvent.
Figures presented to our latest AGM showing the relationship between the proportion of givers vs the proportion of givers showed (roughly) that (ranked by amount of giving):
50% of givers contribute 20% of the giving
75% of givers contribute 50% of the giving
the last 25% contribute the other 50%.
I think many liberals are going to want to remove charitable status from religious organisations. Religion isn’t portraying itself well at present. Lambeth 2020 isn’t going to help either, and I think there is a significant chance that religious organisations will indeed lose charitable status in the next decade.
The compromise may lie in providing more support instead for the maintenance of listed buildings used for religion which is much less contentious.
Kate: Are these liberals experiencing any financial detriment due to the charitable status of religious organisations in the light of T Pott’s explanation of how Gift Aid works in this country? Clearly they are not contributing. Aren’t we rather forgetting other religions in this discussion? The definition in the Act quoted above surely changes matters, or are you thinking primarily about the C of E? Action taken against the C of E alone would clearly be discriminatory. The long list in the Act of descriptions of charitable purposes also includes this: (h) the advancement of human rights, conflict resolution or… Read more »
I am thinking very much of Muslims objecting to LGBT teaching. Religion coming across as regressive. We are heading, I believe, for a period of secularism. The signs are all there. I don’t think society is going to want to give give tax breaks for “the advancement of religion”. But if a church, temple or mosque is used as a food bank and as a hostel for the homeless that’s something I think many people would want to encourage through tax breaks. So societal benefit rather than “advancement of religion”. In other words, I think society’s priorities have changed and… Read more »
Kate: A further defined description of charitable purposes from the 2011 Act:
(j) the relief of those in need because of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage;
The Act then goes on to specifically specifically qualifiy this as including “relief given by the provision of accommodation or care to the persons mentioned in that paragraph”.
These purposes apply as much to the Church as other organisations, and many churches of different denominations (and other religious bodies) are already doing this charitable work.
And those that are should get tax relief.
I can say needing to specify a purpose in the future for collection to attract gift aid in which case parishes will push back on the parish share even harder. I genuinely believe change coming
I am in Quebec, and that period of secularism is already here (both as a backlash against the historic dominance of the Roman Catholic church, and as racist response to more recent Muslim immigration). One of our provincial political parties has candidates advocating the removal of tax exemptions from religious organizations. Canadian charities benefit from two tax advantages: donations allow the donor to claim an income tax credit of up to 35%, and charities receive a rebate of 50% of the federal Goods & Services Tax and the provincial sales tax paid. In addition, churches, synagogues, and mosques do not… Read more »
‘In addition, churches, synagogues, and mosques do not pay real estate taxes on their house of worship or on their clergy residence (limited to one such residence per congregation). ‘ Jim, here in Edmonton the City has recently successfully gone after churches with what they deem to be excessive land which is not being used for religious purposes. At St. Margaret’s last year we paid a municipal tax bill of around $4000, although this has gone down this year because we sold a significant amount of land to the City for a road widening. But it is no longer true… Read more »
Jim, with regard to municipal governments in Quebec, and in Edmonton where Tim Chesterton is (see his reply to you) you might think critically about the role of money, property tax, gentrification, and property developers. Think about Henry VIII and despoiling the monasteries. It’s about money and power. A great many municipal governments in Canada, certainly in Halifax where I am, are in the pocket of property ‘developers’. The idea of churches paying taxes is subterfuge for getting access to prime property so ‘developers’ can access them for the gentry, which in turn generates tax income for municipalities which in… Read more »
I’m glad, in a sense, to read Stephen Parsons on John Smyth. I hope that his efforts, and those of others, will prevent this business from being sidelined, repeated delays leading to its being forgotten. Despite Psalm 1, I find myself unable to avoid the company of cynics – they seem to abound in the church – and their cynicism rubs off on me, so I have this terrible suspicion that, given the power of the public-school-conevo masonry, and its probable influence over the present House of Bishops (judging from Crockfords and diocesan websites), the efforts to have the Iwerne/Smyth/Titus… Read more »
The Shemmings Report into abuse in Chichester Diocese has a valuable section on networks. Different kinds of networks are described in sociological terms and discussed. I agree that the Iwerne network seems to be organised to an almost sinister degree, but there was a kind of network in place around Ball and other Anglo-Catholics, and within the diocese.
Yes Janet – you say it better than I did. A correspondent has privately reassured me that Mr Makin is hard at work, but of course there is no guarantee that his report will be made public, especially if Fr JEH-W, below, is correct – as well he may be. I cope with this now by seeing it as a Whitehall farce, but with desperately sad human casualties.
We are assured that the report will be published, but from past experience there may be a delay in doing so (compare the Carlyle report in the Bishop Bell case) while the Church first considers its findings. I believe that Mr Briden as a senior Social Worker is likely to bring fresh insights to the case.
The Church has proved very poor indeed at publicising reviews and implementing their recommendations. As Stanley (nearly) says, it’s strongly reminiscent of Sir Humphrey.
Whitehall farce – I was thinking more of Brian Rix, though Sir H certainly fits even though he kept his trousers on.
Sir Humphrey was a proud Wykehamist! They invented the fictitious ‘Baillie College’ as his Oxford alma mater.
Like Lord Carlyle’s in the Bishop Bell case, Mr Briden’s instructions are very tightly defined. This time, he is allowed to make findings (although they are to be expressed as opinions) on the balance of probabilities, but he has been specifically instructed to apply the standards prevailing at the time of the events, and not those of today with the benefit of hindsight. I think his social work background puts him in a special position of being able to do this. Now we must wait.
I’m puzzled by references to Mr. Briden. Do you, perhaps, mean Keith Makin? Or have I missed something?
Apologies: A senior moment, (currently away from home, although hardly an excuse). Yes, I meant Mr Makin. Mr Briden wrote the second Bishop Bell report.
Applying the standards prevailing at the time of the events shouldn’t hold Mr Makin back. Those who agreed to do nothing (aka agree a cover-up – maybe to protect the boys, but actually to protect Smyth and the reputation of the Church) had the benefit of a contemporaneous (and rather good) report from one of their own (and which they had commissioned – being the then trustees of Iwerne Trust) making clear that the case concerned offences against the person (aka criminal acts).
Over all the Smyth saga I have a strong feeling that the safeguarding is not of the many victims, but some of the leaders of the Church of England.
Fr John Emlyn