What is the tax status of non profit organisations?  I am involved in a lot of local campaigns, which are not charities (none of them have any money to tax), but if you ask for donations do you have to declare them to the Revenue?

Most of these organisations are involved in campaigning for local services like the busses campaign.


Anthony Lindsay's picture

 Hi Kieran, Just being


Hi Kieran,
Just being non-profit does not in itself incur any special tax status.
Registered charities, i.e. non-profits who have registered with Revenue for tax exemptions as a charitable organisation, can get certain tax breaks. Also, a subset of those bodies (known as eligible charities) can also get exemptions on donations over €250 and can claim the tax back.
You can find details of both schemes here:
Aside from having a CHY number, what obligations you have will depend on how your organisation is structured. E.g. if you're a company, then you'll have to follow the rules set down by the CRO/ODCE and do annual returns and whatnot. Companies pay corporation tax on their profits, but presumably as we're talking about non-profits, there aren't any to tax.
If your organisation is an unincorporated association it has no legal status. It cannot hold a bank account or own property in its own name, so it comes down to the personal responsiblity and liability of the committee members.  So then it's all about transparency and accountability.
For example, if you take donations for the busses campaign you'd need to:
  1. make it clear that the money is for the busses campaign.
  2. keep the money separate from any other finances.
  3. keep accurate financial records of all income and expenditure. (even if it's in a copy book or on Excel - it does not have to be complex accountancy!)
  4. be able to prove what has happened to any donations.
Committee members are essentially trustees of any donated money. Donors expect and trust that the money will go to the cause to which they donated. If you happen to have money left over at the end of a year, it is reasonable to keep some in reserve, but you must have a written reserves policy.
Basically, though, an organisation without a CHY number is obliged to pay any taxes just the same as any commercial organisation operating under normal tax laws. When all is said and done, you'd do well to contact Revenue directly and ask them what your tax liabilities are and who, if anyone, should make returns. The Charities Section operate out of Nenagh.