Share

Wikimedia UK denied charitable tax status

Wikimedia UK denied charitable tax status
News

Wikimedia UK denied charitable tax status

Finance | Tania Mason | 29 May 2009

HMRC has denied charitable tax status to Wikimedia UK, which supports the work of the American charity that runs the Wikipedia website, stating that production of an encyclopaedia is not a charitable purpose.

In rejecting the application, the tax regulator cited a legal precedent stating: “If the object be the mere increase of knowledge it is not in itself a charitable object unless it is combined with teaching or education”.

The board of Wikimedia UK applied to HMRC before the Charity Commission, but accepts that the same law would apply and so it is likely that it would have encountered the same problem.

In its guidance The Advancement of Education for the Public Benefit, the Charity Commission says organisations must provide evidence of educational benefit and states: “A modern example might be a ‘wiki’ site which might contain information about historical events but, if this information is not verified in any way, it would not be accepted as having education merit or value without positive evidence.”

However, Wikimedia UK is unlikely to let the matter end there. In an open letter published online, Wikimedia UK secretary Andrew Turvey responded: “HMRC’s objection goes to the heart of what we have been established to do.

“On the surface, it does not appear that any different wording in our constitution or correspondence would have given us a different outcome. Nonetheless, the legal issues may be arguable – our job is not just to produce content in isolation, but also to spread that knowledge and make it accessible to all. I should imagine this will come down to the finer points of law, and it is probably best to engage a lawyer at this stage when we appeal.”

Wikimedia UK is the UK chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), which runs Wikipedia, amongst other projects. Wikimedia UK is an entirely independent organisation with no control over Wikipedia, although a large part of its activities is supporting the charitable work of the WMF.

Turvey has contacted the Wikimedia Foundation to seek contacts among UK lawyers who could help pro bono with the case. In the meantime, Wikimedia UK, which has income of less than £5,000 a year, has decided to stop referring to itself as a charity or an exempt charity, as it has up until now, and start describing itself as a ‘not-for-profit’ instead.

Comments

[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The civilsociety.co.uk community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear

Please:

  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Free eNews

British Heart Foundation's Mending Broken Hearts appeal raises £25m in four years

27 May 2015

A British Heart Foundation campaign to fund new research into heart defects has raised £25m over the...

One-fifth of charities surveyed do not accept donations through their own websites

27 May 2015

Some 20 per cent of charities do not accept donations via their own websites, and 38 per cent are not...

Charities invited to participate in 24th annual Charity Shops Survey

26 May 2015

Charities with retail operations are now invited to respond to the 24th annual Charity Shops Survey, the...

Methodist charity gives no reason for double defaulting on accounts submissions

27 May 2015

A Cornish Methodist church and registered charity has failed to give any reason for defaulting on annual...

Sir Ian Botham threatens to sue RSPB for libel

26 May 2015

Sir Ian Botham has threatened the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds with a lawsuit, claiming the...

Think carefully before changing your name, says free guide to rebranding

22 May 2015

Charities considering changing their name must first find out exactly what their staff, beneficiaries...

One-fifth of charities surveyed do not accept donations through their own websites

27 May 2015

Some 20 per cent of charities do not accept donations via their own websites, and 38 per cent are not...

Children's Society and NSPCC to improve their digital services

26 May 2015

The Children's Society and NSPCC both said last week they plan to revamp digital services for young people,...

RNLI releases first charity app for the Apple Watch

26 May 2015

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has today launched what it believes to be the first UK charity...

Join the discussion

 Twitter button

@CSFinance