Mumbai: The amendments proposed through the present Finance Bill 2023 will 'disable' instead of 'enabling' charity work, said experts at a meeting on the Bill on Monday. Held at the Indian Merchants' Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the gathering included nearly 250 participants belonging to various religious and public charitable trusts.
The meeting resolved to bring a white paper and work with the government in addressing their concerns.
Among the prominent speakers were Firoze Andhyarujina, Supreme Court Senior Counsel, Viren Merchant, Chartered Accountant and Noshir Dadrawala, CEO, Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy. The meet was organised by the Association for Protection of Public Trusts and Charities, a loose conglomerate of institutions and people joining hands for common cause.
Two primary concerns flagged by experts
Prime concerns were two amendments – the inter charity donations and application out of corpus or loan before April 1, 2021 shall not be allowed as application for charitable or religious purposes even when such amount is put back into corpus or the loan is repaid. Also, the deduction shall be allowed only if the amount taken from the corpus is repaid within five years.
“There are some amendments that affect the very purpose of charity. The government presupposes multiple trusts and layers. The provision is not practicable,” said Andhyarujina. Similarly, Merchant said, “We are not under fascism or communism that does not accept God or charity. We hope that some relief will be given or the amendments nullified or made more practicable.” Merchant said that allowing only 85% and disallowing 15% of expenditure if the donations are made from one charitable organisation to another would affect small charities.
'Easier to do business than charity'
Calling the sector “overregulated”, Dadrawala said the relation of “love-hate” between government and charitable trust had now moved to “hate-hate”. He remarked, “It is easier to do business than to do charity. Charitable institutions are welfare-oriented (organisations) like we see in the National Centre for Performing Arts and Tata Memorial Hospital. They are doing work that the government should be doing.”
Underlining that there have been back-to-back changes in rules in recent years, he further asserted that there is a systematic assault on charitable bodies and questioned, “Is there ease of doing charity?” Speakers called the proposed amendments and restrictions were “unreasonable, unconstitutional and unethical”.
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