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Singapore Charities
 
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  Who must register as a Charity?

As long as your organization/trust/foundation is set up exclusively for charitable purposes and carries out activities to achieve these purpose.

All charities set up in Singapore must be registered with the Commissioner of Charities (IRAS office) within 3 months of its set-up.

A charity may be set up as:

a company limited by guarantee (not having a share capital); a society; a foundation or a trust under a trust deed. Public Companies Limited By Guarantee

A public company limited by guarantee is one which carries out non-profit making activities that have some basis of national or public interest, such as for promoting art, charity etc. The Minister may approve the registration of the company without the addition of the word ¡°Limited¡± or ¡°Berhad¡± to its name.

Society

A society is defined in the Societies Act as a club, company, partnership or association of 10 or more persons, whatever its nature or object, and not already registered under any other law.

A society should hold its Annual General Meeting in accordance with the provision in the society's constitution. It is required to submit its Annual Return and audited accounts within a month of the holding its Annual General Meeting.

Foundation

A foundation is an institution or association with a permanent fund dedicated to charitable, educational, religious, research or other benevolent purpose. It is generally supported by gifts and donations.

A Trust Under A Trust Deed

The charitable trust constituted by the deed and its property ("the trust fund") shall be administered and managed by the trustees.

The following document should be submitted together with the application:

  • Signed copy of the Governing instrument;
  • Certified Statements of Accounts for the last 3 financial years (if applicable); and
  • Particulars of all Charity Trustees including the Name, NRIC No.; Address, Date of Appointment and their Position on the Board/Committee.

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What are governing instruments?

Constitutions for charities set up as societies, and Memorandum and Articles of Association for those set up as companies.

To meet the requirements for registration under the Charities Act, the governing instrument should include the following provisions:

Objectives of establishing the charity

The objects must be exclusively charitable and must also be clearly and concisely stated. Any power to carry out activities in support of the main objectives should be provided under an incidental clause.

Management

For a charity which is established as a society, there should be a committee of trustees appointed in accordance with the constitution, responsible for its management. The duties and terms of office of the charity trustees should be specified.

A sufficient number of trustees must be appointed for effective management. Where a charity is set up by trust deed or incorporated as a company, there should at least be three charity trustees.

Quorum

The number of charity trustees/members present to form a quorum for any meetings should be clearly stated. In cases where the charity is incorporated as a company or set up by trust deeds, the minimum number to form a quorum should be three. Amendments to the governing instrument

Any amendments to the governing instrument must be approved by the Commissioner of Charities (IRAS office). Dissolution

The circumstances under which the charity can be dissolved/wound-up should be clearly stated. Upon dissolution/winding-up, any remaining funds and assets (after settling all debts and liabilities) should be given to other registered charitable organizations or exempt charities with similar objectives.

IPC Status

Only those organizations which are conferred the approved Institute of Public Character (IPC) status are authorised to receive tax-deductible donations (i.e. donors are given tax-deduction for donations made to these organisations).

To apply for approved IPC status, an organizations must first satisfy all the conditions for conferment of approved IPC status.

What are the Conditions for Conferment of Approved IPC / Related Approved IPC Status?

  • The objects of the IPC must be charitable in nature and its activities and operations must be carried out on a non-profit-making basis.
  • The Comptroller of Income Tax (CIT, IRAS office) may reject the name of the proposed IPC if we consider it inappropriate or misleading, and may reject conferment of IPC status if we consider the likely activities and programmes of the proposed IPC as likely to go beyond the charitable causes which justify IPC status.
  • The IPC may be an organization: registered as a company limited by guarantee; or registered as a society; or established by statute, and therefore subject to regulation as a company or society or statutory establishment.
  • Or the IPC may be a fund set up for defined charitable purposes, in which case the fund must come under the purview of a company, society or statutory establishment.
  • The charitable activities of the IPC must be beneficial to the community as a whole and not confined to sectional interests or group of persons based on race, creed, belief or religion, i.e. they must satisfy the public benefit test, unless otherwise approved by the Minister for Finance.
  • The charitable activities must benefit the Singapore community unless otherwise approved by the Minister for Finance.
  • The IPC must be administered by a group of independent trustees i.e. there must be independent control.
  • The selection of auditors must have the prior approval of the CIT (IRAS office)
  • The organization should submit its audited financial statements and annual returns of donations to the CIT (IRAS office) within the stipulated time without fail.
  • Any alteration or amendment to the Memorandum of Association or its equivalent has to be cleared with the CIT (IRAS office).
  • Basic information on the activities and financial standing of the IPC shall be made conveniently accessible to the public by posting them, in the prescribed format on the Internet.
  • The conferment of IPC status shall be subject to review every five years. Activities and funding levels will be monitored to see if the IPC status should be renewed.
  • The IPC is required, upon dissolution, to distribute any remaining funds to other approved institutions of a public character.

If your organization has multiple charitable objectives (e.g. promotion of arts and social welfare), you may apply for the approved IPC status. However, if yours is an organization with single charitable objective (e.g. promotion of arts only or social welfare only), then you may apply to be a Related Approved IPC in order to enjoy the approved IPC status. All IPCs are required every year to provide donations information to IRAS.


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