Business and higher-rate tax reliefs 'could face government cuts'

Warning from Charity Tax Group

Discretionary relief on business rates and rebates for donors who are higher-rate taxpayers are the tax breaks most vulnerable to government cuts, the annual general meeting of the Charity Tax Group has been told.

Peter Fanning, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, told the meeting that local and central government would soon be looking for ways to cut expenditure. He said changes to some charity tax reliefs, such as lowering the standard rate of Gift Aid, would be unpopular in the sector and raise relatively small amounts of money, but others would be easier.

Relief from business rates was worth £1bn a year to the sector, he said, and the discretionary tax relief offered to charities by local authorities was particularly vulnerable.

"Councils are already allowed to stop offering discretionary rate relief," said Fanning. "Rate relief is not very visible in the eyes of the public, so it would be surprising if they did not consider it.

"Central government is already looking at the way Gift Aid works. There's very contested evidence about whether it encourages giving. It would be easy for the Government to say it was not having much effect."

He said the sector should not assume it would be immune to government cuts and should be prepared to argue that tax breaks were effective and worthwhile.

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