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The charitable institutions are eligible for certain tax exemptions and benefits in India. The exemptions and benefits are dealt with under Sections 12A/12AA and 80G of the Income Tax Act, 1961. The institutions availing benefits under Section 12A and 80G had to revalidate their registrations under these two sections before August 2020 to continue to obtain the benefits.
The existing religious or charitable institutions or NGO’s had to re-apply to the Income Tax authorities for revalidation of the existing registrations. The charitable institutions cannot claim the benefits provided to them under 12A and 80G deductions without revalidation. This revalidation process focuses on whether the charitable activities of the institution or trust, or NGO are genuine or not.
The revalidation is necessary due to the changes made by way of amendment to the Finance Act, 2020, which mandates that the charitable institutions registered under Sections 12A/12AA and/or 80G of the Income Tax Act, 1961 are required to re-apply online for approval/registration by 31 August 2020. This amended provision came into force on 1 June 2020.
However, due to the COVID-19 situation, the CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes) deferred the start date to 1 October 2020, and the charitable institutions had to re-apply for registration by 31 December 2020. On the 26 of March 2021, the CBDT notified the Income-Tax (6th Amendment) Rules, 2021 that states the procedure for fresh registration and the list of documents required for organisations registered under Section 12A/12AA/80G.
The Income-Tax (6th Amendment) Rules, 2021, came into force on 1 April 2021. Thus, the institutions and trusts with existing registrations under Section 12A/12AA or/and 80G should file the application for fresh registration within three months from 1 April 2021, i.e. before 30 June 2021, as per the Income-Tax (6th Amendment) Rules, 2021.
Registration of trust or charitable institutions under section 12A/12AA certifies that the Income Tax authorities recognise the registered institution or trust as having been incorporated or established for a charitable purpose.
The effect of such recognition is that the respective institutions are exempted from paying income tax, subject to the satisfaction of certain other compliance requirements as per law.
Section 12A deals with institutions and trusts registered before 1996, and Section 12AA deals with institutions and trusts registered after 1996. The NGO’s have to obtain a 12A certification to avail tax benefits, regardless of whether they are constituted as a society, trust or not-for-profit company.
Registration of trust or charitable institutions under Section 80G does not provide any direct benefits to them. The trust or charitable institutions register themselves under Section 80G to enable the donors who contribute to them to avail certain tax benefits on their contributions.
The registration under section 80G of charitable institutions is to incentivise their donors to make contributions. However, only the NGOs that have registered under both Section 12A and 80G are eligible for availing of government funding.
In order to claim exemption, a charitable or religious trust or institution, including an NGO, should make an application to the Principal Commissioner of Income Tax or Commissioner of Income Tax online in Form 10A. The procedure of applying for revalidation/registration are mentioned below:
The NGO’s applying for registration/revalidation as per the amended provisions of Section 80G are mandatorily required to provide the details of their Registration number with the DARPAN portal of Niti Aayog.
The registration under Section 12A and 80G are also mandatory when the organisations intend to receive or receive any grant or assistance from the Central Government or State Government.
The following are the documents that need to be submitted while applying for revalidation:
After 1 April 2021, upon filing the application for revalidation, an order granting the revalidated registration is passed within three months. The revalidated registration under section 12A and/or 80G is valid for a period of five years, after which it needs to be revalidated again. The re-application after five years has to be made at least six months before the expiry of the validity period of the registration.
After receiving the revalidation application under 10A, the Principal Commissioner of Income Tax (PCIT) or Commissioner of Income Tax (CIT) will pass an order of granting approval in writing in Form No.10AC and issue a 16 digit Unique Registration Number (URN) to the applicants.
The PCIT/ CIT may reject the application after giving an opportunity of being heard or demand further documents from the applicant if needed. The rejection order is also passed in Form No.10AC.
The applicants must submit the application for renewal after the initial five years of registration in Form No.10AB. Upon receiving the application under Form No.10AB, the PCIT/CIT will make the order of registration or cancellation of registration or rejection in Form No.10AD.
The PCIT/CIT is entitled to demand from the applicant further documents to satisfy the genuineness of the activities of the institution or trust and the compliance of the requirements under any other law for the time being in force by the institution or trust that are material to achieve its objects.
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