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TaxPayers’ Alliance: Give It Back

Give It Back

Following the Guardian’s revelations that the TaxPayers’ Alliance set up a charitable arm, the Politics and Economics Research Trust, to claim tax relief on donations from wealthy backers, we call on the TPA to:

1) Give £150,000 back to the Treasury*

2) Disclose how the funds raised by the Politics and Economics Research Trust were spent.

This is a win-win solution for the TPA:

WIN 1) It will be doing its bit to help reduce the budget deficit that it claims to find so abhorrent.

WIN 2) It will be reaffirming its commitment to transparency, and helping to silence any suggestion that it is an alliance of unscrupulous hypocrites.

How can it refuse?

*This figure assumes that 40% of the £373,230 received by the Trust during 2008 was composed of tax relief. The figure may be less if not all donors were high-rate taxpayers, or not all allowable tax relief was claimed or gifted to the Trust. If the estimate is incorrect we will be happy to amend it on sight of the correct figures. Please note that this estimate covers 2008 only; an additional amount will need to be repaid for 2009.

See also: John Prescott’s letter to the Charity Commission, at LabourList and Liberal Conspiracy.

Posted by Other TPA at 04:32pm on 21 December 2009
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Be very careful what you wish for.

There are far more “dodgy” charities than you might think, and many of them are left wing and totally political in their activities. I would offer our old friends the “Low Pay Unit” (Registered charity 298000) which has long sailed under a name deliberately chosen to mislead and misrepresent (in some people’s eyes) and which is, beyond doubt, simply a political campaigning body. But one which, I guess, you heartily approve of.

In nailing your colours to the Prescott/Leather mast you run additional risks. Prescott because of his personal liberty taking with public funds and Leather because of her clearly demonstrated partisanship. (On taking the reins at the Charity Commission she spookily decided that the single most pressing problem facing her organisation was the charitable status of a sub-set of the UK not-for-profit education sector).

Campaigning about tax is always going to be a thorny issue. Separating tax policy from politics is impossible. For as long as the TPA pursues one, simple aim - a general reduction in tax and, therefore, public spending - I don’t think its charitable status can be usefully challenged. Should it take on more specific campaigns which could clearly favour one group or another then it might cross the line and lose its entitlement.

I repeat what I have said before; you need to take on board that the TPA’s objects are legitimate, reasonable and useful. And design and launch your rebuttals from that standpoint.

Posted by Brian Smith at 12:46pm on 24 December 2009

Thanks Brian. Even if we disagree about my suggestion (1) above, surely the TPA should do option 2? As ever, it’s the lack of transparency that’s most galling. Why should the TPA have these discussions in private with one of the quangos it claims to so detest when it could go public and let us taxpayers form our own opinion on whether its spending was charitable?

Posted by Other TPA at 01:42pm on 4 January 2010

Hi Cliff

The problem is one man’s charity - the Low Pay Unit, say - is another man’s political agit prop outfit.

The Politics and Economics Research Trust will, I imagine, be required to produce accounts that meet the Charity Commission’s requirements. These will, of course, be as opaque as all the others.

Perhaps what you and I can definitely agree on is the case for stricter, more demanding accounting standards for charities? If that catches out the likes of the Politics and Economics Research Trust then so be it; they shouldna’ done wrong!

Posted by Brian Smith at 09:39pm on 6 January 2010

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