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European Commission requests Ireland and Poland to end discrimination against foreign charities

The European Commission sent Ireland and Poland formal requests, on 17 October 2006, to end discrimination of foreign charities. Both Member States currently allow tax relief for gifts to charities, but only if they are established in their own territory. This, the Commission considers, is contrary to the EC Treaty.

The request is in the form of a 'reasoned opinion' under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If Ireland and Poland do not reply satisfactorily to the reasoned opinion within two months the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice, which held that the difference in treatment between gifts made to charities in a Member State and charities in other Member States is contrary to the EC Treaty in its ruling on Stauffer of 14 September 2006.

EU Taxation and Customs Commissioner László Kovács said: “As I said when the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to the UK for the same issue, the rules of the Internal Market forbid discrimination of charities in other Member States. Gifts to bona fide charities in other Member States should get the same tax treatment as gifts made to domestic charities."

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