Cyprus Mail

Beleaguered charity to meet environment commissioner over charitable status

By Maria Gregoriou

ANIMAL welfare charity Paphiakos is to meet Environment Commissioner Ioanna Panayiotou today following a decision by Inland Revenue to strip it of its charitable status because it sold merchandise.

Paphiakos’ accountant, Marios Taliotis said the letter from Inland Revenue said they were selling animal food at their veterinary clinic and this meant they were competing with other companies.

“If we do this for profit we are not considered to be a charity according to the letter,” Taliotis said.

Taliotis did not deny the facts but said that as the charity no longer received funds from the government and its funding from abroad had considerably decreased, this small amount of money helped Paphiakos survive.

“We have been doing this and other activities like having a bazaar to collect money for animal welfare since 1994 when the organisation was registered as a charity,” Taliotis added.

“We will present our case to Ioanna Panayiotou as we think this action is unthinkable and absurd,” he added.

In order for an organisation to become a charity it must send an application to the finance ministry. The application must include legal documents stating that it is a registered organisation and a letter clearly stating the goals of the charity.

One of the criteria for a charity to be registered is that it will not participate in any merchandising.

“An approved charity is exempt from paying income tax on its yearly income. This exemption is based on the understanding the charity does not participate in the competitive market,” an Inland Revenue official said.

Every year charities must present the ministry with their financial records so that their status as a charity can be upheld.

“The ministry will look over the charity’s balance sheets and if a small organisation, for example, has a large amount of money in the bank, then this may mean it is using the charity’s name to make a large profit,” the official said.

In such circumstances an investigation is carried out and if the charity is found to be competing in the open market, it will lose its status.
Paphiakos provides neutering services for free and removes dead and injured animals form the roads and highways.

“Our organisation helps society and teaches children about loving animals so they grow-up caring for animals

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Source: Cyprus News Agency