Law to introduce charity fee

| 10/08/2010

(CNS): A government bill to regulate charities in the Cayman Islands, which is expected to come before the Legislative Assembly next month, will require fees to be paid by local organisations that want to be registered. Once the bill is in effect no charitable body or non-governmental organisation will be able to fund-raise legally unless they are registered and have met the conditions set out in the new law. Although the draft bill does not say how much charities will have to pay to be on the country’s official register, clause 14, which provides for the regulations to facilitate registration states that the regulations may provide, “for the application and other fees to be paid on registration.” All charities will have six months to register once the bill is past in order to be given official charity status.

The law gives no indication if the registration fee will be a nominal amount, if it will be a one off payment or an annual sum, but the law does make it clear that, once enacted, no organisation, unless exempt by the registrar, can claim to be a charity and raise money locally without being registered.
 
The new law will, according to clause 30 of the draft, also exempt charities from the Gambling Law, facilitating their ability to sell raffle tickets for draws and other prize winning games.
 
Aside from creating a register of all charities operating in the Cayman Islands and methods by which their accounts and actions can be monitored, the law also provides for a registrar whose role will be to promote public trust and confidence in the charitable sector. The appointed person will also decide which charities will be registered, monitor their activities and compliance, as well as provide an annual report to government on the local charities sector and the activities of those charities registered under the law.
 
At present there are no laws regulating the establishment and activities of charities and people can fund raise for causes at will. In future, however, all organisations, from well known charities such as the Humane Society to lesser known specific local groups and church organisations, will all be required to register if they intend to take money from the wider public.
 
Charities registered under the law will be expected to provide accounts, follow financial laws and reveal their sources of income. Charities will be expected to spell out their purpose and the registrar will monitor the organisations to ensure they are doing what they say they will and spending money collected for the betterment of society. The registrar will be able to refuse and remove charities and the wider public will also be able to object to the registration of charities.
 
The law will make it an offence for anyone to solicit on behalf of charity that is not registered and the attorney general will be able to investigate any charitable organisation that is suspected of committing an offence.
 
Registered charities will be required to state their RCO number on fund raising materials from brochures to badges and will not be allowed to pester people into donating. Once the law is passed the public will be able to examine the records and accounts of charities and see exactly where funds are going.
  
The law provides for some charitable organisations to be exempt if they are regulated by another law or are a government entity. It also provides for exemptions for organisations raising funds for a short term project or specific event at the discretion of the registrar.
 
The law had been set down to come before members of the Legislative Assembly last month but it was withdrawn from the order paper as government said there were changes still to be made to the draft bill before it would be presented and debated.
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  1. Anonymous says:

    If you want to support charities, how can taxing them help? If there are fraudulent charities around, let the AG (attorney general, not auditor) send the organizers to jail. Why wait for this stupid proposal? Oh, I guess the real charities should have to pay for the enforcement against the bad ones. The general hatred for churches evident in so many posters seems to have made them lose their senses in regard to all charitable organizations. What I can promise you is that there will be less charity if this goes through.

  2. Burnard Tibbetts says:

    Is this law really necessary?     What are the advantages of this proposal?
    How will it affect disabled and needy Caymanians?
    How will it affect clubs and orgiznations which are being charitable?
    Does it encourage or show appreciation to those who volunteer their time to seek funds to help the needy?
    Will it encourage local charities to sacrifice time and effort to help locals?
    Are the people criticizing the local charities and churches out-doing these
    groups in helping the needy and providing amenities that improve our islands and way of life?

    It is appalling to see how the critics on this website, whether local or foreign, target the churches and local charities with their antagonistic, sarcastic and bitter comments, just as if they were doing better?

    This law may discourage local charities but it cannot stop people from sending money to help people in other countries!  

    At a time like this when the economy is weak, I believe that this is likely to do more harm than good within the islands..

    I also believe that it is possible to over-burden the place and people with laws and ask the powers-that-be, to avoid making any new laws that are not absolutely essential.

    High levels of freedom with minimal restrictions make a place more attractive to outsiders and more enjoyable to natives.

    Burnard Tibbetts

  3. Charity begins at home says:

    There are several comments here to the effect that hopefully the fees will be nominal. 

    Don’t hold your breath. Take the current position of non-profit companies as potential guidance.  Any non-profit organisation registered under section 80 of the Companies Law  hoping to take advantage of separate legal personality and limited liability status conferred by the Companies Law  and in order to  take advantage of the section 80 exemptions from the filing and fees ordinarily due to the Registrar of Companies is now required to  pay CI$500, not to the Registrar of Companies but to the Gov-in-Council, for approval to change its directors or to amend its memorandum and articles of association.  These fees are purportedly to cover the costs of the compliance that is mandated by UN and FATF directions and the legal department’s input.

    Assuming a nominal membership fee any such non-profit that has an active and responsible turnover of its executive must attract 20 – 50 members just to pay its "nominal" government fee each time there is a change to the board of directors whether or not it chooses to publicly raise funds.

    A search of the UK Charities Commission website indicates that it does not charge for registration.  If anyone can confirm otherwise please post. 

    • anonymous says:

      I had heard that the fee would be upwards of $10K to register a non-profit organization.

      It seems that all applications for new non-profits are at a stand still right now, I presume do to this amendment.

      Keep in mind that a lot of the non-profits as well too have yet to get a duty exemption, so they are also paying duty on all their supplies etc.  What once used to be a common understanding with customs is now void, unless a charity has an official exemption they will be charged duty.

      Is lard still duty free?

      If what I have heard is true, I cannot fathom how many of these non-profits will be able to operate.

      What we need is an audit process, all non-profits should be subjected to random audits.

  4. At Last says:

    At last! A Bill I can agree with.  Hurry and make it law and stop these people from constantly scrounging from us all.

  5. Ray says:

    At face value this should be worth it simply to weed out any unscrupulus "charities", providing the license is nominal and covers at least a couple of years. The need for financial accounts, approved by the board of the charity/church, will mean that all concerned can clearly see where the funds collected are going. The larger established charities will not have any issue as they will already have these things in place.

    I may be a bit sceptical but there does seem to be an awful lot of these organisiations that exist for such a small island community. For example, the large number of churches that exist, and continue to develop, must mean that we have the most "lost" souls on the face of the earth or it is simply about the money.

    The issue about exemptions are a different discussion and should be carefully scrutinised. Loopholes could be used for any manner of abuse, e.g. money laundering.

  6. Duddus says:

    Great idea! Hit the churches and the charities! Mac… While you are at it, you should also hit up pre school and primary school kids for a cut of their lunch money!

  7. Anonymous says:

    If this legitimizes the raffles by the various charities can we then put a stop to raffles by for-profit businesses that require an entry fee?

    Really. LIME sends out how many text-to-win promotional messages to let me know it only coast $1 per text to enter their latest draw. How is that not gambling?

    I would rather give my money to a legitimate charity and expect nothing in return but the good feeling of helping my fellow residents of the Cayman Islands. Please support the Cancer Society, the Humane Society, Cayman Hospice Care, the NCVO, or whatever organization supports the community in a way that you believe is constructive.

     

  8. Anonymous says:

     This has been a long time coming.  Richard Coles was pushing for it from the time he was Attorney General,  and  I am happy to see it, finally.

    Joy Basdeo

  9. ex-pat Eric says:

    But think of Movember!! 

    Small things count and if you throw additional burdens people will may just stop helping out, organizing, and being a valuable part of the community.

  10. TennisAce says:

     OK at first blush this just looks like another way for the government to earn revenue and tax another area of civil society out of existence, but on the other hand this could be good for Charities as I doubt that the fee will be unduly harsh etc. 

    Also, clearly most people have forgotten how many terrorists used donations to so-called charities as a way of funnelling money into terrorist training camps.  Drug dealers, narco-terrorists and weapons terrorists or those dictators who are looking for ingenious ways to hide moneys from foreign sources can set up a charity and use non-existent companies to funnel money into these charities. 

    All over the world charitable organisations have to be registered.  Recently in the US Joel Osteen and many other televangelists had their various ministries under scrutiny by the FBI as they were not operating within the strict guidelines of charitable organisations but more along the lines of profit centres.  The FBI felt that it could not be a charity having regard to the lifestyles of the various ministers of religion. 

    Nothing wrong with a small stipend being paid by charities (at least I hope it is small) as a lot of these NGOs, charitable trusts etc are doing very good work and have assisted the local community in many projects. 

    • ex-Pat Eric says:

      You are right — they help out in many different ways. Unfortunately the organizers of the said groups often do it voluntarily (read — after the perform their day jobs) and don’t the time or resources to assume the extra burden.

      If this is just about eliminating illegal numbers then let the police enforce the rules instead. If it about Churches earning extra money then set up a tax law and have them list themselves as non-profits. Which by the way is why the tele-evangilists get in trouble with the IRS, they misreport their income.

  11. Anonymous says:

    well it’s easier than tackling the parasites in the civil service…..

    anyway i would not worry, with this governments record on flip-flops and u turns, this is unlikley to happen…unless they say it will not happen……etc…zzzz

  12. Anonymous says:

    The fee could and most likely will be nominal, not an issue.

    The only reason gov is doing this is to exempt charities from Gambling Law.  Here comes our casino and national lottery.

    • Anonymous says:

      The big USA  has lotteries and does not have this proposed law-they are free to form organizations without registering them-another deterrent to people trying to do again-MY  GOD  please help us.

      • Pauly Cicero says:

        And every time there is a global disaster there are "charities" aka unscrupulous individuals ripping off innocent donors. At least there will be a clue as to where to look if it happens here. I’m not so sure charities do not have to be registered in the US, you’ll have to show me the CARFAX on that.

  13. Anonymouse says:

    So our Premier will now be charging fees to the Pink Ladies and other charities that help to fund the old peoples homes etc.

    Great thinking Mackeeva. Now I know what a Financial genuis you are.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      This Bill needs revision if it is to be taken seriously. The idea of subjecting members of service clubs to due diligence procedures is over the top as is the idea of annual audits. Audit firms do a substantial amount of pro bono work as it is and no one wishes to see monies raised for charities being spent on audit fees or indeed fees paid to Government to enable it to increase the civl service yet again.

      This Bill cannot be a priority bearing in mind the problems that require resolving as a matter of urgency such as Mount Trashmore.

      • Dred says:

        Hi Chris,

        Which begs me to ask Woohhhhy?

        I believe we are being set up but how and what I am not sure. I look at the special exemption to the gambling law and think huuummm why throw that in there?

        Politics has taught me that generally if something looks stupid it’s because I am not reading between the lines on some facet of the bill.

        I recall Big Mac right after his win at the elections crying the world is ending for Cayman and we need to…..

        1) Be nice to investors and don’t slow them down

        2) Help them with red tape

        and a bunch of crap…

        Then less than 1 month later the Hospital was brought forward. That Chris was a set up. Not that I don’t want it but I believe he thought it might be a hard sell for some reason and in truth we haven’t seen the things actually play themselves out as yet and we won’t until staff are being brought in. Maybe we will understand more about that then.

        One thing Big Mac does is set people up and I believe this is some sort of set up. Could the whole present the gambling referendum be some sort of way to kill it permanently and then allow the churches to still gamble while they attack the numbers people? Not sure.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This is great. I can’t wait for the churches to freak out. Oh but wait, I’m sure Bush will excuse them from this. Churches are only "charities" when it is convenient or profitable for them.

    What a joke 

  15. Alex says:

    It would be nice if government tax the community and money goes toward welfare purposes. They do this in Canada and the United States. We are so scare of tax that we don’t see the benefit of it.

    It is until one of us get in an accident or have a child that needs funding for medical emergencies that we see the value of financial collective support. Cayman is the only place I know that does not do this. Some time ago a Caymanian boy was shot and received serious injuries. Some of you know who I am talking about. The family sent around pleas for donations to help their son. Cans were sent at the gas stations and their were even radio announcements to help the kid. It has taken so long a time for that boy to receive medical help. The church monies and donors of a few were not enough! 

    People… a simple community tax funneled towards supporting social services, welfare and the elderly in the Cayman Islands would have immediately help that boy. We dread tax so much we have forgotten its benefits!  

    • Dred says:

      In a word NO. No to Taxes. We can be more creative than an idea generated a thousand years ago.

      • Alex says:

        Yes

        Of course, NO to the UK imposing tax upon us!

        But a community tax to help the helpless, is a noble collective iniative. It is only well off Caymanians, Conservatives, Republican-like, and rich people I hear saying we can help everyone by allowing them and their businesses make more money. But as far as I know Dred, the rich and well off Caymanians are looking out for themselves. Thus, a community iniative to helping those in need is a moral obligation.

        So NO to UK taxing us – But YES to a community tax!

        • Dred says:

          Just say No Alex. Just say No. When you hear TAX think NO. Tax is BAD Alex…No Tax is Goooood.

      • Anonymous says:

        like Christianity, created 2,000 years ago – something new please

      • Florence Goring-Nozza says:

         

        Tax exempt or non profit organizations in the US is called a 501 (C3)

        Non profit organizations apply for a non-profit corporate  status by submitting articles, and annual reporting which is simply a term used for renewal.. Local Tax collectors office excludes them or makes the non profit organization exempt from  paying for a Tax licence it is Free because they have a not for-profit status.

        Organizations should not be charged on an ongoing basis., unless it is for a for-profit business or organization.

        Non-profit organizations usually function in serving the community with its socio-economic problems facing the community. such as; National Disasters, Assisting individuals with housing, food, clothing, sometimes financial aid.

        Because the non-profit organizations assists government in solving the socio-economic problems of the country,  they sometimes or most times qualify for a government grant that should be or is normally  sensored by frequent audits from Government Administration or  like in the United States by the Feds. The Feds visit the non–profit organizations  sometimes 25 times a year if they are receiving grant monies claiming to be helping the poor and people who have needs in the local community. The more money is granted the more frequent the visits. they want to know where every penny went. This is checked by social security identification and other Id presented to the organizations and records kept to show to whom and where the funds were distributed.

        The funds have to be spent withing a specific time frame as well to prove that there was indeed a need for the grant application of minutes granted.

        I’m not sure the reason for the Cayman Island’s government recent move to charge fees., they have not specified if it is an Application fee which is quite in order. but to charge local service clubs that are small and struggling, also the churches, is really pushing the envelope. I think stricter rules would probably apply more to the larger churches.

        In any case IRS allows a non profit organization 2 years from the date of commencement  to apply for a 501(c3) tax exempt status.

        Government has not really explained the real reason for such a move. There’s still the big question not answered why are they doing this now?

  16. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if this was Pastor Bush’s idea?

    • Dred says:

      That’s kind of easy to figure out actually. Is the idea a complete mess? If yes then yes it was his. Ooh Crap. Simpler process actually. No one on else on UDP is allowed to think so definitely.

  17. Good citizen of the world says:

    So now if you want to Give something of yourself for the betterment of another you must pay the Cayman Government for the privilege.  I for one will never give permission to anyone to have that power over me.   In this you are stealing the best of human nature from those who need it most.  Truly Pathetic and further proof that you are all not fit to lead.  My love for Humanity is not now and will never be under your control.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I believe there is already something in the penal code that prevents collecting for a charity that has not been approved by the Governor. So once again we seem to be wasting money on introducing laws that really are not going to positively affect the community.

    Can anyone do a FOI request on how much it a) costs to implement the new laws and b) perhaps most importantly, enforce them?

    What good is it to introduce a law that cannot or will not be enforced?

    • Dred says:

      Well let me tell you how I see this.

      Normally when you see stupid stuff you have to look a touch deeper at any "special" allowances.

      Saying the above the one thing that kind of sticks out but makes me wonder why so much effort for something never enforced anyhow would be the exemption from the gambling law allowing these "non-profit" organisations the ability to raffle and do other games without "breaking" the law.

      I found that interesting amidst of all the gambling debates going on and how much the general community is throwing it back at the churches for their gambling that this should all of a sudden be included as a "special" clause in the law.

      Just finding it hard to believe still they would do something even when their is no enforcement UNLESS, UNLESS the gambling is already shot down and this is to protect the churches going forward when they start enforcing the law against numbers games.

      Just a thought I had anyway.

    • Anon says:

      Deploy the Mouse.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Government should not introduce oversight and financial penalties at a time of historic hardship for these groups; nor should they question the philanthropic motivation of the tireless volunteers engaged in this important work.  Has there ever been a record of an abuse in this category that should cause us alarm and concern?        

    • Pauly Cicero says:

      The government should wait until we are ripped off before implementing any oversight or regulation. How dare they be proactive.

      • Anonymous says:

        Some of the biggest charities on island raise less than $100k/year – do we really need to staff another gov’t task force to oversee a handful of volunteer workers? 

    • Anonymous says:

      While I also hope (and trust) that there is no funny business going on with money donated to specific charitable causes, oversight and accountability (if done correctly!) can be good for these groups. A nominal fee and a streamlined administration of the registrar’s duties would likely end up benefiting society, increasing the transparency of these organisations and ensuring that donations go towards the stated cause.

      The large service clubs and well-known charities are of less concern of course.  I personally am often uncomfortable by the people who go door to door requesting funds for their aunt’s kidney transplant or other need, generally medically-related. It’s even worse when a four year old child is sent to the door with a worn "sponsorship sheet" to donate to an individual’s particular need, with the parents sitting in the running car 20 feet away hoping that this method will secure more donations. Being accosted while exiting the supermarket is also off-putting (most fundraisers are incredibly polite, but there are the few that are too aggressive).

      Maybe I’m a little bit less trusting than you, but I think this push will be good for society, I just hope Government does it properly, with as little bureaucracy as possible. But perhaps this part of my hope is too optimistic.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why are Churches exempt from oversight?

        • Anonymous says:

          Perhaps the separation of church and state that is so often touted here on CNS, most often not in the correct context.  

          • Legal Beagle says:

            That context being the United States constitution rather than anything to do with Cayman? 

      • Florence Goring-Nozza says:

         

        There are sometimes cases where an individual or family member may need a kidney transplant or other serious operation or expensive surgical procedure. My question is where are the insurance companies who have been paid all along high premiums for years and years from the hands of these people who were hardworking individuals when they were up on their feet? An unconcerned and reckless government allows these insurance companies to DROP health coverage and support to that poor sick soul just WHEN THEY NEED IT!! ,  and they have no other option but to go out on the street and beg for help.  This should never happen in a small society such as the Cayman Islands. This must be stopped. We need to stop looking down on those begging for help and start looking down on those mistreating them.

        We need elected officials who do not workfor insurance companies nor Big Corporate Cayman, but that work for the people of the Cayman Islands.

        I can not stress enough,

        STOP VOTING FOR YOUR FRIENDS AND FOR PEOPLE WHO YOU FANCY. IT IS DESTROYING THE COUNTRY. VOTE FOR PEOPLE THAT HAVE VISION ,INSIGHT, GUTS, AND GUSTO TO TAKE ON ANY INSTITUTION REGARDLESS OF ITS SIZE!

        Until we elect leadership that can cancel the selfish, and self seeking  assignments and  behavior of these unscrupulous insurance companies, and corporate Cayman, we can not say that we have voted wisely nor sensibly. For it means that we are not capable of even voting in the interest of our very own lives and our future.