• Sun. Sep 26th, 2021

Reform of non-profit status: union blocks compromise


Jul 23, 2021

Non-profit associations should also be allowed to pursue their goals politically, says the SPD. But there is no agreement in sight.

Attac would not benefit from the law reform, but other organizations would. Photo: Stefan Bones

There is still no agreement between the CDU/CSU and the SPD on the planned new regulation of non-profit status. The Social Democrats want to implement a compromise that was worked out by the finance ministers of the states, but then partially failed in the Bundesrat: It is to be clarified that organizations may also achieve their charitable goals by political means and that they may also be active for purposes other than their main purpose – that, for example, a sports club can also participate in actions against racism without risking its charitable status. In addition, further charitable purposes are to be included in the law.

The proposal is related to the so-called Attac ruling, with which the Federal Fiscal Court would have withdrawn the non-profit status of the organization critical of globalization. As a result, donations can no longer be deducted from taxes, and cooperation with other non-profit organizations or foundations is made more difficult.

Attac itself would not benefit from the proposed amendment – nor would the Campact platform, which also lost its non-profit status as a result of the ruling; to achieve this, additional purposes would have to be included in the law or the concept of political education, on which Attac had based its non-profit status, would have to be redefined. However, many other associations that also fear for their status because of the ruling would gain legal certainty through the proposals.

However, the CDU/CSU has so far rejected the SPD’s demand that the changes to the nonprofit law be implemented as part of the annual tax law; the passage of the law, originally planned for this week, has therefore already been postponed. The Social Democrats are putting on the pressure: if their demands are not met, the SPD does not want to change the non-profit law at all.

SPD wants overall package

Also changes, which are desired by the union, for example a higher tax lump sum for honorary active ones and other easements, would not come then. "We want to put together an overall package," SPD member of parliament Michael Schrodi told the taz. He said it must be permissible to achieve charitable purposes through political activity as well. "I cannot understand why the CDU/CSU is blocking even this simple clarification."

There is broad support for this from civil society: After numerous large associations such as Amnesty International and Greenpeace had already spoken out in favor of a corresponding change, numerous umbrella organizations also backed it on Wednesday and submitted a joint paper (here as PDF).

What should not be uninteresting for the Union: Among them are also rather conservative institutions such as the Federal Association of German Foundations and the German Olympic Sports Confederation. "A vibrant democracy needs an active civil society with people who selflessly get involved, who question decisions and initiate debates," their statement reads. "To this end, the German Bundestag must now create the necessary legal certainty by clarifying the tax code."

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