Nearly eight out of ten people think the Government should compensate charities in full for the VAT they have to pay, according to a Mori opinion poll commissioned by the Charities' Tax Reform Group.
About 77 per cent of the public backed a full tax rebate for the sector's irrecoverable VAT bill, which has been estimated at about £500m a year.
But the poll, released as the CTRG launched its VAT campaign in Parliament, also revealed widespread ignorance about charities' tax plight. For example, only 29 per cent of the public knew that charities pay VAT they can't recover. Thirty-seven per cent thought charities did not pay VAT at all.
At the launch, lifeboatman David Sporle, who last week spent a night fighting the fire on Southend Pier, said: "The Government doesn't pay a penny towards UK lifeboats, but the RNLI pays £3.2m in tax that we can't reclaim. This is not what we are saving lives for."
Bob Russell, the LibDem MP for Colchester, said charities should try to get the VAT issue into storylines of popular soaps such as Radio 4's The Archers.
- See Finance News, page 9.