Dáil Éireann - Volume 499 - 27 January, 1999

Written Answers. - Charitable Status.

477. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Finance the average length of time taken by the charities section of the Revenue Commissioners over the past five years to process an application for charitable status from original receipt of the application to the final decision to grant or refuse charitable status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1277/99]

478. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Fin[348] ance the number of bodies with charitable status known to have become defunct in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1278/99]

489. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Finance the number of applications for charitable status received by the Revenue Commissioners in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1289/99]

490. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Finance the number of applications for charitable status granted in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1290/99]

491. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Finance the number of applications for charitable status refused in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1291/99]

492. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Finance the number of applications for charitable status submitted and subsequently withdrawn for each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1292/99]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 477, 478, 489, 490, 491 and 492 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, for the past two years or so, the average length of official time taken to process an application for charitable tax exemption was of the order of six weeks. The processing time varies, depending on the extent to which an application is accompanied by all the information needed by Revenue and on whether all the conditions for granting exemptions are met when the initial application is made. The present processing time is an improvement on the years before 1997 which is attributable to the publication by Revenue in October 1996 of a comprehensive information booklet to assist applicants to make more complete applications. In the years prior to 1997, it took approximately eight to ten weeks on average to process an application.

The remaining information sought by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

[349]

Year

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

Number of applications received

342

359

502

505

535

Number of applications refused (1).

105

117

77

59

16

Number of applications submitted

and subsequently withdrawn (2).

None

None

None

None

1

Number of applications granted (3).

204

255

289

354

359

Number of defunct bodies

2

7

7

12

(4)1,493 (4)

(1) The reduction in applications refused in 1996, 1997 and 1998 is because, prior to October, 1996, the practice was to refuse applications at the initial stage if all the official conditions were not met, whereas since October, 1996 applicants are given an opportunity to comply with these conditions subsequent to the initial application.

(2) It should be noted that a substantial number of applications, although not withdrawn by the applicant, are either not pursued to conclusion or involve considerable delay on the part of the applicant in meeting official requirements before the application can be granted. For example, at the end of 1998, 271 bodies which submitted applications in that year had not responded to queries raised by Revenue. The processing of a further 87 cases received in 1998 had not been completed by the end of the year. Six of the cases refused in 1998 related to applications received prior to that year.

(3) Exemptions granted in any one year would include a number of applications received prior to that year. For example, of the 359 exemptions granted in 1998, 193 related to applications received prior to that year.

(4) The sharp increase in the number of bodies categorised as defunct in 1998 is due to a special project commenced in February of that year to identify charities which were no longer active. Almost all of these bodies became defunct a long time ago. The 1998 figure also includes cases where religious orders wished to have individual local exemptions subsumed in the parent/provinical house exemption.

479. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Finance the number of unincorporated bodies, clubs, societies, associations and so on which enjoy charitable status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1279/99]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): The Revenue Commissioners have informed me that separate statistics of unincorporated bodies holding charitable tax exemption are not maintained and that the information requested by the Deputy could be obtained only by the expenditure of an inordinate amount of official time. The number of bodies holding exemption which do not include “limited” in their title is 4,739. However, some of these may have been permitted by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to omit this term from their title under the provisions of section 24 of the Companies Act, 1963.

480. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Finance the number of bodies having charitable status which have as sole or principal objective the delivery of personal social services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1280/99]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): Charitable tax exemption is granted where a body has as its sole or primary objective the advancement of education; the advancement of religion; the relief of poverty; or other works of a charitable nature beneficial to the community.

The Revenue Commissioners have informed me that entities whose sole or principal objective is the delivery of personal social services might qualify for exemption under more than one of these headings. As records are not maintained separately on such entities the information requested cannot be provided.

481. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Finance the proposals, if any, to review the pro[350] cedure by which applications for charitable status are processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1281/99]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that a comprehensive application process must be gone through by bodies seeking charitable tax exemptions and stringent conditions apply where exemption is granted. The considerations taken into account in deciding cases and the requirements to be fufilled by applicants are set out in information booklet CHY1 entitled “Applying for Relief from Tax on the Income and Property of Charities”, a copy of which has been placed in the Oireachtas Library. I should mention that in his 1992 report, the Comptroller and Auditor General noted that the charities section of the Revenue Commissioners examined applications for tax exempt status and ensured that the legislative and administrative procedures were complied with before exemption was granted.

The Revenue Commissioners have advised me that they have no proposals to review the current application process.

482. Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Finance if any of the 32 tax exempt charitable bodies that have applied not to have their names published as outlined in a newspaper article (details supplied) have availed of exemption from income tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1282/99]

483. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Finance if any of the 32 tax exempt charitable bodies that have applied not to have their names published as outlined in a newspaper article (details supplied) have availed of exemption from corporation tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1283/99]

[351] 484. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Finance if any of the 32 tax exempt charitable bodies that have applied not to have their names published as outlined in a newspaper article (details supplied) have availed of exemption from deposit interest retention tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1284/99]

485. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Finance if any of the 32 tax exempt charitable bodies that have applied not to have their names published as outlined in a newspaper article (details supplied) have availed of exemption from capital gains tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1285/99]

486. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Finance if any of the 32 tax exempt charitable bodies that have applied not to have their names published as outlined in a newspaper article (details supplied) have availed of exemption from capital acquisition tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1286/99]

487. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Finance if any of the 32 tax exempt charitable bodies that have applied not to have their names published as outlined in a newspaper article (details supplied) have availed of exemption from stamp duty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1287/99]

488. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Finance if any of the 32 tax exempt charitable bodies that have applied not to have their names published as outlined in a newspaper article (details supplied) have availed of exemption from probate tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1288/99]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 482, 483, 484, 485, 486, 487 and 488 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that 20 bodies, not 32 raised objection to inclusion of their names in a list of tax exempt charities which was recently made public by Revenue. A further 107 bodies agreed to disclosure subject to certain conditions being met. As the Deputy may be aware, the information commissioners will decide on the question of disclosure in these cases under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 1997.

Where exemption is granted a body would qualify for relief from the taxes referred to in the questions where such liability was incurred. However, the Revenue Commissioners do not have information to hand as to which of the bodies in question actually availed of exemption from these taxes and they have advised me that this information could be established only by a detailed examination of the records of the bodies in question.