Clause 96 - Gifts of real property to charity

Part of Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 13th June 2002.

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Photo of John Healey John Healey The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 3:15 pm, 13th June 2002

It is interesting that both the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs and the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton drew on the United States model to support the proposals made by their two groups of amendments. In a sense, the first point made by the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs was correct. We did learn from the US experience in framing some of our new charity taxation legislation, but we adapted and applied it to particular British circumstances, which in some respects are different. His group of amendments would take us a step closer towards the US system. The second group of amendments spoken to by the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton would take us still closer towards it.

I particularly welcome the strong recognition that the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton gave to the changes in the support that we have given to charities since 1997. He asked about the cost of the amendments. We have an estimated cost, which is fairly provisional, of £5 million. [Laughter.] Particularly with works of art, it would only need one very large donation under that regime significantly to increase the estimate. Cost is categorically not the reason why I recommend to my hon. Friends that they do not support the amendment, as our track record over the past few years in providing generous provision to boost charities suggests.

I shall briefly explain the purpose of the clause and deal with the problems with the amendment. Clause 96 will extend the relief, which we introduced in the Finance Act 2000, for gifts to charity of listed shares, land or buildings. From April 2002, individuals and companies giving a freehold or leasehold property to charity will be able to claim relief on its market value in computing their income or profits for tax purposes.

The extension of the relief has been welcomed by charities.

Amendments Nos. 90 to 92 seek to extend the relief for gifts of listed shares and real property to ''qualifying works of art'', and amendments Nos. 207 to 210 seek to extend the relief to all moveable property. The existing types of asset that come within the relief are relatively easily valued for claiming the relief in the first place and are readily realisable, which means that a charity has an option to hold or sell a gift to draw its benefit. Extending the relief to all moveable property could lead to charities receiving assets that have no investment value or are not readily convertible into money. The difficulties in valuing such a wide range of assets would add significant complexity to the working of the relief for both donors and the Inland Revenue. The hon. Gentleman significantly down played the potential problem of complexity in his remarks.