FINANCE NEWS: Royal Marines wins support of Customs in VAT payment row


Triodos Bank is launching an ethical savings account benefiting charities and a campaign to encourage consumers to take control of their investments in a socially responsible way.

Triodos spokesman James Niven said he hoped both individuals and charities would be among the investors in Charity Saver, which he said would provide both a financial and social return. The account is being launched with Amnesty International, Oxfam and Robert Owen Communities.

"Investors can be assured that if they open an account, we will only use it to support the charities that borrow from us,

said Niven.

Investors can also choose to forego all or part of the interest on the account, in favour of any voluntary organisation.

While charity investors are obviously concerned about getting a good return on their investments, he said, there is an expanding range of ethical options that offered good returns, such as the new savings account.

A National Opinion Poll survey commissioned by the bank found that two-thirds of people thought their savings should benefit society as well as pay interest.

The survey found 81 per cent of consumers were unhappy about a lack of transparency and wanted more information about how the bank invested their money.

The Royal Marines 1939 Fund has won its VAT battle over work carried out on a 19th-century war memorial.

The decision could signal growing flexibility by Customs & Excise on charity VAT issues, according to accountants.

Customs was demanding £10,000 VAT on the Royal Marines' memorial work, even though part of the costs came from ex-servicemen's donations. The tax claim had been criticised in the press and by MPs.

Peter Ladanyi, VAT manager at Chantrey Vellacott DFK, which represented the charity, said: "This is the third time we've eventually won a taxation case against Customs over war memorials, although in each case they've conceded on a different argument."

He said he hoped Customs would produce new written policy accepting that zero rating applied to such work or, even better, a VAT refund scheme such as that for church repairs.

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