Tax boost for Gift Aid scheme
The Grand Charity benefits from an Inland Revenue change
The Grand Charity has received a welcome boost from the Inland Revenue, and is now entitled to reclaim the tax on members' annual contributions. In other words, for every £1 that a member gives, the Grand Charity will be able to benefit from an additional 28p, reclaimed from the Inland Revenue.
The Grand Charity now needs support from as many Freemasons as possible, who need to "sign up" to the scheme. A supply of Gift Aid Declarations and Guidance Notes will shortly be sent to Lodge secretaries.
Lodge secretaries will have the very important job of requesting all their members who qualify, to sign the Gift Aid Declaration forms and send them back to the Grand Charity.
Like most schemes involving the Inland Revenue, there is some "small print", so secretaries will need to read the Guidance Notes very carefully.
After the initial collection of forms this year, and with the help of Grand Lodge, we plan to merge the ongoing administration of the scheme into the Annual Return (AR1) system.
This means that the burden on secretaries can be reduced to the minimum in the future, by simply confirming continuing instructions and "signing up" new members.
The effort required from individual members and Lodge secretaries is very small when compared with the prize to be won. The Grand Charity can now boost its income by £200,000 to £300,000 each year with the help of this relief, providing a tax efficient benefit - and at no additional cost to members.
But remember, the Grand Charity cannot reclaim the tax unless YOU sign the Gift Aid Declaration.
Help for undergraduates
The UndergradAid scheme has already awarded grants of £1.5m
The UndergradAid scheme was set up by the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys to help tackle financial difficulties when a child is at university while undertaking a first degree or equivalent.
Young people are eligible if their father, stepfather or guardian is a subscribing Freemason under the English Constitution, or was in good standing at the time of his death.
Grants are usually £1,000 a year and are means tested, but the income threshold is generous, and those families considered most in need arc given priority.
Since the scheme's inception in 2000, the Trust has awarded 1,598 grants at a cost of £1.5m.
Study is not restricted to the UK, and one successful applicant is currently attending the Brigham Young University, Hawaii.
Among the many letters of thanks received by the Trust was this one:
I write to thank you for your very kind and generous bursary that I have received for the second year of my studies at Liverpool. It really makes a difference.
For example I can purchase textbooks when needed rather than having to save for them.
I know of my father's membership and his constant reminders of the good and charitable work that is done by Freemasons.
I did not expect to be part of the work you do, but I am very grateful. Thank You.
Another successful applicant wrote:
I am writing to you to express my deepest thanks and appreciation in connection with the donation your organisation allowed me to receive.
I cannot explain how grateful I am and how much this extra money will help me with my university education for the next year.
My father and grandfather have been active in Freemasonry for many years, and their dedication to the organisation has been an excellent example, and shown me how to appreciate life.
Once again I would like to thank you for your bursary and your good wishes in attaining the highest level of achievement.
Another one wrote:
I am writing to you to express my thanks for the grant you have awarded me for the academic session 2002-2003.
As I'm sure you will appreciate, the money will be very welcome as the costs of being on a veterinary medicine course are high, and living in London doesn't do anything to lower these costs.
I have really enjoyed my course so far. Last year went well. The highlight of the year was passing my very difficult exams first time.
The grant I was awarded was very useful as it enabled me to buy the very expensive textbooks I required. I was
also very pleased this September when I was awarded a special prize for excellence in animal husbandry.
I can assure you that this year's money is most gratefully received, and will be used most wisely, allowing me to buy the textbooks I require and also paying for my tuition fees.
Thank you once again.
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