Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Highland Titles Charitable Trust For Scotland Article

Earlier this year, the same people behind Highland Titles, were involved in starting an organisation called The Highland Titles Charitable Trust For Scotland, a Guernsey (not a UK) registered charity. It is interesting to see what Peter Bevis of Highland Titles wrote back in August of 2012 on the subject of Highland Titles and charities. This was published by Highland Titles in response to material published on the website.
"Let me explain some facts of business. Enterprises such as Highland Titles register as charities for one reason only. To avoid paying tax, so that they can spend more of their money of the projects they advocate.  There are many taxes that can be avoided, tax on retained profits and sales taxes being the most significant.  In return they suffer the overheads of accountancy, which is a reasonable trade off most of the time.  Highland Titles operates in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. There is no tax on retained profits in Guernsey(zero). There are no sales taxes  in Guernsey (zero). If we registered as a charity, which we could easily do, we would have less money to spend on conservation, not more, as our accountancy costs would be considerably higher. Highland Titles is a family run business. We take no dividends or profits from it. We never have and never will. We refuse to waste money on unnecessary accountancy because pleasing you does not form part of our remit."
It would appear that the people behind Highland Titles have gone against their own good advice, and now one would presume, there is considerable amounts of unnecessary money being spent on accountancy rather than conservation. As Highland Titles had little or no tax burden already, what on earth would be the point of the charity if there are no saving on tax to be made?

I certainly do not agree that the only reason to register as a charity is to avoid paying tax, there is another very good reason involving transparency. In Scotland and England, registered charities are required to produce accounts which are made available to the public, and names of directors are published. In this way anybody can satisfy themselves to some degree that the business of the charity is being conducted in a proper manner which adequately benefits the cause. It also means that any claims made for income and expenditure etc. can be checked against accounts submitted to the authorities.

Guernsey registered charities on the other hand, have no such burden of financial transparency. The only requirement in regard to transparency required of Guernsey registered charities, is to publish their name, address, and charity number, nothing else.

In Guernsey, “The law neither specifically provides nor requires the Registrar or the organisation to make accounts available to the public….. the information that is published is limited to the name, business address and reference number of the charity.”

It is not possible to find out the names of the directors or trustees, it is not possible to examine their accounts, it is not possible to check any published accounts against those submitted to the authorities. There is no transparency at all.

I can find no firm statement either from Highland Titles or The Highland Titles Charitable Trust For Scotland that any revenue generated by Highland Titles sales is passed to the Charitable Trust. If you can find such a statement please let me know where it is, I'll be happy to report it.

This charity appears to offer no tax advantage, no transparency, no accountability, but will surely incur accounting costs, and perhaps even more salaries to be paid and marketing costs. If someone can explain how this is an improvement and will result in more of the available funds being spent on conservation, please do.

If you are of the opinion that The Highland Titles Charitable Trust For Scotland was set up for any reason other than as part of the Highland Titles marketing machine, in order to financially benefit the for profit Highland Titles company, you might want to consider revising that opinion. What other function could it possibly exist for?

You might also like to read about the promised Highland Titles Scottish charity which was mysteriously aborted after the inaugural AGM had been announced.

No comments:

Post a Comment