A donation is a voluntary donation for a religious , scientific , charitable , cultural , economic or political purpose . Recipients of donations can be non-profit associations , foundations , political parties , aid organizations or religious communities . Donations can consist of monetary or in- kind contributions or a waiver of remuneration for work performed ( time donation ).
Donations can be special expenses within the meaning of income tax law if certain requirements are met.
In Germany, around three to six billion euros per year are donated to around 600,000 charitable associations and 15,000 foundations. The exact amount of donations in Germany is not known. The following studies regularly survey the donation behavior of Germans:
- Study “Balance of Help” by the Society for Consumer Research : determined donation amount of 4.7 billion euros for 2013.
- "Deutscher Spendenmonitor" (German donation monitor) from TNS Infratest : determined donation amount of 2.9 billion euros for 2011/2012.
- Federal Statistical Office : donations claimed for tax purposes amounting to 6.1 billion euros for 2009.
The vast majority of donations from private individuals go to humanitarian aid (2013: 79%). Other purposes, cultural and monument preservation , animal welfare and environmental protection each account for less than 10%.
According to a study by the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB), German citizens who are involved in clubs or associations donate more often and more than others. This calls into question the sometimes widespread view that donations are perceived as a “substitute” for a lack of personal volunteer work. The study shows that people with a higher income donate significantly more often than the average citizen. The share of the donations in their annual net income is, however, considerably below the average.
The largest donation organizations
According to surveys by the German Fundraising Association (2011) with regard to total contributions, donations and inheritance, the 20 largest donation organizations in Germany are the following:
|rank||Donation organization||Headquarters||Donation income|
|1||SOS Children's Villages / Hermann Gmeiner Fund||Munich||€ 120,000,000.00|
|3||Johanniter Accident Aid||Berlin||€ 88,841,436.00|
|4th||Doctors Without Borders||Berlin||€ 80,854,384.10|
|5||German Red Cross||Berlin||€ 71,043,833.19|
|6th||World Vision Germany||Friedrichsdorf||€ 69,284,572.00|
|7th||Children's missionary organization "The Carol Singers"||Aachen||€ 68,922,925.70|
|9||German Cancer Aid||Bonn||€ 61,000,000.00|
|10||bread for the World||Stuttgart||€ 58,283,144.25|
|13||Christoffel Mission for the Blind||Bensheim||€ 48,540,036.80|
|14th||German World Hunger Aid||Bonn||€ 47,658,572.98|
|16||v. Bodelschwingh Foundation Bethel||Bielefeld||€ 36,608,730.90|
|17th||Aktion Deutschland Hilft||Bonn||€ 35,883,685.35|
|19th||WWF Germany||Berlin||€ 31,500,000.00|
|20th||German Caritas Association||Aachen||€ 29,580,652.44|
In the 2016 financial year, the Deutsche Krebshilfe Foundation achieved first place in the statistics of the 20 leading donation organizations with donations of 249.2 million euros.
Checking the use
The tax offices check the correct use of the donations on a random basis. In addition, the use of the donations for the awarding of voluntary donation seals is checked.
The term donation is unknown to civil law . In civil and legal terms, the donation is a gift , the characteristics of which are met by the donation in (1) BGB . It is a donation through which someone enriches another out of his or her assets if both parties agree that the donation is made without consideration . A donations contract after BGB only quite effective if the promise of donation notary certified is or the promise (§ 518 BGB 1 BGB.) Via suitable was (§ 518 BGB. 2; see donation contract ). Is the donation with an earmarking connected, there is a so-called overlay donation to BGB, in which the donor the fulfillment of its circulation may demand. If the recipient does not use the donation received as agreed, the donor can claim his financial contribution back. The donation is not given in the case of anonymous donation campaigns such as the donation can . Then it is a mere donation for a specific purpose within the meaning of (1) sentence 2 (2nd case) BGB, which is repayable if it is used for a purpose other than intended . The right to donate in the BGB is often overlaid by the public right of street collections .
Donations for tax-privileged purposes (e.g. to charitable organizations ), political parties or independent electoral associations are tax-deductible in Germany, but are treated differently. The donation can be claimed by private individuals in the income tax return as a special tax-reducing expense within certain limits (cf. and EStG ); Companies can deduct the donation (“ corporate donations ”) from profits up to a fixed maximum limit (cf. Paragraph 1 No. 2 KStG and No. 5 GewStG ) (but not donations to political parties).
The non-profit status of the association, the foundation or the non-profit GmbH must have been recognized by a provisional certificate of the non-profit status or a notice of exemption from the tax office, which is responsible for the donation-receiving organization. According to EStDV , the donation deduction is also dependent on the donation being proven by the taxable donor by means of a donation receipt. This donation receipt must be issued using an officially prescribed form. The latest requirements for such a confirmation, as well as the sample forms, which must be used by January 1, 2014 at the latest, result from the BMF letter of November 7, 2013. The transmission to the donor can also be done electronically under certain conditions .
There is also the possibility of an expense donation, a waiver of the payment of a reimbursement claim, or a donation in kind. The waiver is tax-deductible under certain conditions like a donation.
Membership fees are according to Heimatpflege / History or other "recreational purposes" (promoting animal so-called breeding , plant breeding, gardening , traditional customs, including the Carnival , Mardi Gras and Mardi Gras , soldier and reservist care, amateur radio , model flying and dog sports ) or if the members receive specific and individual services in return for their contribution (so-called fake membership fees, which represent a performance fee). However, since 2009, according to Paragraph 1, Clause 7 of the Income Tax Act, membership fees to development associations for art and culture are tax-deductible even if the member is granted monetary benefits (e.g. reduced admission).para. 1 sentence 8 Income Tax Act but not as a donation deductible for organizations that sports
Before January 1, 2007, the donation deduction was dependent on the pursuit of a charitable, ecclesiastical, religious or scientific charitable purpose recognized as being particularly worthy of support. This distinction between tax-privileged and donation-privileged, which implied that donations to tax-privileged corporations were only eligible for donations if the purpose was “particularly worthy of support”, was abolished with effect from January 1, 2007.
Effect and amount of the special expenses deduction
In the case of donations from private individuals to charitable organizations, the tax-reducing effect depends on the personal tax rate .
Donations for tax-privileged purposes are recognized as special expenses up to the amount of 20% of the total amount of income; alternatively, the maximum amount can also be calculated with 4 per thousand of the sum of the total sales and the wages and salaries expended in the calendar year ((1) sentence 1 EStG). The donation receipts (colloquially known as donation receipts) must be submitted with the income tax return.
For donations to political parties and electoral associations , the tax reduction is 50% of the donation amount, up to a maximum of € 1,650, or € 3,300 for spouses taxed together. The tax liability is therefore max. 825 € / 1,650 € deducted. Donations exceeding the maximum amount can be claimed as special expenses up to € 1,650. In total, one person can donate 2 × 1650 € (spouses double the amount) with tax deductions ( see also: Tax deductibility of party donations ).
If donations exceed the maximum amount, they can be carried over to subsequent years and claimed within the maximum amount (“donation carryforward”). The donation presentation is not hereditary. An additional maximum amount of one million euros within a ten-year period applies to donations to the assets of charitable foundations.
A wage donation is a waiver by an employee of part of his remuneration in favor of a certain charitable purpose. The employer withholds this part of the gross salary and transfers it to the non-profit or charitable institution. The retained earnings are not taken into account when determining the taxable wages. In return, no donation receipt will be issued. In Germany, the wage donation is a temporary exception that can be issued by the Federal Ministry of Finance. Such exemptions were used, for example, in June 2014 to support the victims of the floods in the Balkans and in September 2015 for refugee aid. In Great Britain, wage donations have existed as a model with no time limit (“payroll giving” or “give as you earn”) since 1987; in the USA, “payroll giving” is even more widespread.
Differentiation from sponsoring
The sponsor's expenses are business expenses if the sponsor seeks economic advantages for his company or wants to advertise his company's products, in particular in securing or increasing his corporate reputation. This is particularly the case if the recipient of the services refers to the company or to the sponsor's products in an effective way on posters, event notices, in exhibition catalogs, on the vehicles used by him or other objects. The reporting in newspapers, radio or television can justify an economic advantage that the sponsor is striving for, especially if it is involved in his public relations work or the sponsor participates in press conferences or other public events of the recipient and makes his own statements about his company or his Can deliver products. Economic advantages for the sponsor's company can also be achieved by the sponsor's use of the recipient's name, emblems or logos or other means to draw attention to his services in a publicly effective manner.
For consideration as operating expenses, it does not matter whether the services are necessary, customary or appropriate; the expenses may also be deducted as business expenses if the cash or non- cash benefits and the promotional goals pursued for the company are not equivalent. In the event of a blatant disproportion between the services and the economic advantage sought, the deduction of operating expenses must be refused ( (5) sentence 1 no. 7 EStG).
In everyday language , voluntary payments, e.g. B. for freeware or donation ware or for smaller services called donation. However, these are payments for deliveries or services ( download ). The payments are therefore not a donation that is tax-deductible. For the payee they are operating income. If a profit arises from this income after deducting the costs , this is taxable. Depending on the type of delivery or service, a trade or a freelance activity must be registered. For a payee who is entitled to input tax deduction, the payment is a gross amount from which the sales tax included must be paid.
In addition, there are now more and more opportunities, especially on the Internet, to donate money to aid organizations that are not recognized as charitable by German tax offices, for example because they are based outside the European Economic Area . In this case, in terms of tax law, it is not a question of donations, but rather " gifts ".
Collections of monetary donations, donations in kind or public services in kind were previously regulated in all federal states by collection laws that stipulate an authorization requirement for certain forms of fundraising. This applies to street and door-to-door collections in which the potential donor is addressed directly and has to decide immediately for or against a donation; Advertising mail, general calls for donations and the setting up of stationary collection bins, on the other hand, are possible without permission. Today, however, there are only collection laws in Rhineland-Palatinate , Thuringia and Saarland , in the other federal states they have been repealed without replacement, and anyone can collect donations there without official permission.
According to the Fundraising Association Austria , which prepares an annual “donation report”, the volume of donations in Austria is increasing continuously. In 2010, 460 million euros were donated, in 2011 it was 490 million euros, and in 2012 the 500 million euro mark is expected to be exceeded. The number of Austrians who make donations has also risen in the past to currently 80% of the population. One of the reasons given is the gradual expansion of the tax deductibility of donations.
For a long time in Austria only donations for the purposes of science and research or for monument protection were tax-deductible. This led to repeated clashes between the government and representatives of aid organizations and non-profit associations, which saw themselves at a disadvantage compared to other European countries. Before the National Council election in Austria in 2006 , Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser prepared a draft law, which was not implemented after the election. At the beginning of 2009, as part of a tax reform, tax-privileged donations were extended to charitable organizations. There is no connection with the donation seal of approval issued in Austria .
As of January 1, 2012, the list was expanded to include additional organizations. The volunteer fire brigades , environmental protection organizations and animal shelters were added to the list. The decision was preceded by disputes with animal welfare organizations such as Vier Pfoten and the Verein gegen Tierfabriken . They complained that donations could only be made to animal shelters and not to other animal welfare organizations, although they received around 10% of all donations made in Austria. Critics of the decision suspected a "return coach" for politically uncomfortable animal welfare work. The background to this is a conflict between politically successful animal welfare associations and the Austrian state, the culmination of which is the Wiener Neustadt animal welfare process . Animal protection is thus the last major area of civil society engagement that is excluded from donation deductibility in Austria, which is also criticized by other associations.
In Austria, donations of up to a maximum of 10% of the previous year's income (private individuals) or the previous year's profit (companies) are recognized.
The values brought together through public collection form what is known as a collective asset .
The United States is the country with the greatest amount of donation. It donated $ 410 billion in 2017, an increase of 5.2% over the previous year. That is the equivalent of over 1100 euros per inhabitant. In an international comparison, the high proportion of 70% comes from individuals (in Europe this figure is only 53%), the rest is divided between foundations, corporations and bequests.
Donations are only tax-deductible up to a maximum of 50% of adjusted gross income , although lower maximum limits apply to certain donations. Donations that exceed these maximum amounts can be carried over into subsequent years and can be used as a donation carryforward for a limited number of years within the maximum amount.
Time donations are not tax deductible in the US; only certain expenses incurred for this (costs such as food, accommodation and travel expenses, but not any necessary childcare) are tax-deductible.
In a European comparison, Great Britain has the highest donation per capita. In 2017, the equivalent of over 270 euros per inhabitant was donated.
In the UK there is the tax treatment of donations to charitable organizations ( charities ) no maximum limit. Donations by people who pay taxes in the UK to charities in the UK (and since the Finance Act 2010 also to charities in the EU, Norway or Iceland) are funded through Gift Aid .
A private donor must issue a Gift Aid statement to the charitable recipient stating that they are liable for tax in Great Britain and that they have paid or will pay income tax in the relevant tax year (6 April to 5 April) in the amount due on the donation. The monetary donation will then be treated as if it had been paid after tax using the base tax rate: if the base tax rate is 20%, a donation of £ 100 will be treated as a donation of £ 125 before tax and the donor will therefore be paid £ 25 ( 20% of £ 125). The taxpayer himself is reimbursed the difference between his tax rate and the base tax rate: for example, if he has a tax rate of 40% with a base tax rate of 20%, he receives the difference of £ 25 for every £ 100 donated (again 20% of £ 125 ) back.
In contrast, corporate donations are treated as pre-tax donations; accordingly, the donating company can deduct the entire donation amount to reduce profits. It is a common practice in the UK for a charity to have a subsidiary that transfers all of its profits to the parent organization. This practice would not be possible in Germany - with the exception of special-purpose companies - due to the maximum donation limit and the voluntary requirement. In Great Britain, for example, this method is used to offer paying clients a service on the one hand and to give the same service to those in need free of charge on the other. It should be noted that the subsidiary can also provide tax-free amounts in excess of its profit to the parent company. Conversely, a charity may only be economically active to a limited extent in a way that is not connected to one of the primary purposes according to the statutes ( non-primary purpose trading ), as otherwise it would lose its tax privilege. The sale of donated items, on the other hand, is regarded as a tax-harmless conversion of a donation in kind into a cash donation. A charity may also offer paid services to the public sector, provided these are compatible with the goals set out in its statutes.
Donations in kind and donations in the form of services are not tax deductible in the UK.
In sponsorship, it is widespread that the sponsor advertises with the statement that he is transferring a certain share of his income to a charity . (For comparison: in Germany only the newer legislation since the rainforest project judgment of 2005 has determined the admissibility of such advertising under competition law.)
Some companies offer to make an additional donation to the non-profit recipient organization chosen by their employees , up to a maximum limit for each wage donation (“payroll giving”) made by their employees.
Cross-border donations in the EU
With the “Persche” ruling of 2009, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that due to the free movement of capital in the EU (Art. 56 EC, now Art. 63 TFEU), the donation deduction for domestic donations also applies to cross-border donations within the EU . In such a case, however, according to the ECJ ruling, the tax office is not obliged to obtain the necessary information that the foreign recipient organization fulfills the requirements for donation deduction by means of administrative assistance .
For Germany, the Federal Fiscal Court confirmed in a 2015 ruling that the obligation to provide evidence that the requirements for a donation deduction are met applies to the domestic donor and not - as in domestic cases - the recipient of the donation in the case of donations to a foreign corporation. In addition, according to this judgment, the donation receipt must meet certain requirements: It is true that it cannot be required to use the officially prescribed form in accordance with § 50 EStDV, but the foreign recipient organization must certify that it has received the donation, is pursuing the statutory charitable purpose and is using the donation exclusively in accordance with the statutes.
- Similar to the domino effect, small donations can trigger a wave of donations, as the inhibition threshold to make a donation is significantly lower than with conventional donation methods due to the small amount of money.
- A patron is a person who supports an institution, local authority or person with money or monetary means in the implementation of a project without asking for direct consideration.
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