‘Gift aid re­view poses threat to our schools’

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

TALKS ARE GO­ING on with the tax au­thor­i­ties to pre­vent a change in pol­icy which could cost Jewish schools tens of thou­sands of pounds a year.

For many years, state-aided schools have been able to claim tax re­lief on con­tri­bu­tions made by par­ents to­wards the cost of Jewish stud­ies and se­cu­rity.

Higher-rate tax­pay­ers have also been able to re­claim some tax on the pay­ments, which have been treated as char­i­ta­ble by HM Rev­enue and Cus­toms.

But in the past 18 months a num­ber of schools have been chal­lenged by the Rev­enue over whether parental con­tri­bu­tions can con­tinue to qual­ify for tax re­lief through Gift Aid.

An HMRC spokesman said that al­though it could not com­ment on in­di­vid­ual cases, “gen­er­ally Gift Aid is only avail­able on freely given do­na­tions, for which noth­ing is re­ceived in re­turn”.

Jewish schools were briefed last week by the Part­ner­ship for Jewish Schools (Pa­jes) which is co-or­di­nat­ing the re­sponse to HMRC.

Pa­jes chief ex­ec­u­tive Rabbi David Meyer said: “We have put to­gether some of the best and bright­est ex­perts, all of whom are of­fer­ing their time on a vol­un­tary ba­sis.”

Lead­ing ac­coun­tants BDO UK have been “very help­ful” in putting the schools’ case, he said.

The schools ar­gue that the con­tri­bu­tions made by in­di­vid­ual par­ents do not go di­rectly to their child and there­fore should re­main el­i­gi­ble for char­i­ta­ble tax re­lief.

“The chil­dren in a class­room all get the same ser­vice, ir­re­spec­tive of whether their par­ents do­nate money,” Rabbi Meyer pointed out.

If the au­thor­i­ties no longer al­lowed tax re­lief, the im­pact on a one-en­try pri­mary school, he sug­gested, could be that it would have “to con­sider re­duc­ing its staff by one mem­ber”.

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