Tax Breaks

One thing that has struck me recently is about charitable organizations that try to attract donations by claiming “100% tax break under section 80G” or a similar 50% tax break or some such thing. Given how often organizations use this technique to get funds, I’m sure this works. That people do choose where to donate their money depending upon the amount of tax break they get.

I’m just trying to illustrate this concept from another angle. Let’s say you donate Rs. 10000 to a charity that has gives a “100% tax free” receipt. So effectively your taxable income goes down by Rs. 10000. And considering a 10% marginal tax rate (ignoring cess, surcharges, etc.) your tax payable comes down by Rs. 3000. So effectively, you have donated ONLY Rs. 7000 to this charity and forced the government to pay the balance Rs. 3000.

Do you see the catch in this tax-break scheme? Essentially the government is forced to pay money to charity at the behest of a single citizen! By granting this “tax free status” to a charitable organization, the government is making itself liable to commit unlimited funds to this particular charity (of course I suppose that it isn’t easy to get such breaks for your organization, and considerable greasing of palms is involved. But considering that a small charity run by my extended family gets 50% tax break it may not be very hard after all).

So yeah, I’m sure the numbers will be available somewhere but i’m too lazy to find it. But I’m interested in finding out the aggregate deduction sought by all taxpayers put together under this section 80G (the one where you get tax exemption for donations). And then see where the government’s forced charity is headed!

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