Bratislava Declaration on
Tax Treatment of NGOs

The participants in the Round Table on "Tax Treatment of NGOs" which was organised by the Europhil Trust (France) and SAIA-Service Center for the Third Sector (Slovakia) with the assistance of the Information and Documentation Centre on the Council of Europe (Bratislava) and of Kluwer Law International (The Hague, London), bringing together in the City of Bratislava on 16 an 17 December 1996 fifty women and men from nineteen countries: layers, tax specialists, university professors, politicians, national and international civil servants and NGO officers,

  • Recognising that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play a vital role in the life of the community at all levels - local, national, regional and global - and in every field of human endeavour,

  • Reaffirming their commitment to the freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and the freedom of expression which are fundamental human rights,

  • Noting that money, time and talent, voluntarily donated, constitute the lifeblood of genuine NGOs,

  • Considering that international solidarity between people, nations and generations is an essential feature of the civil society and that many NGOs conduct activities abroad and receive donations form legal and physical persons residing abroad,

  • Emphasising the responsibility of the commercial sector towards the community and the importance of corporate citizenship,

  • Recalling that through the tax policy and legislation many countries acknowledge the significance of the activities benefiting the community by NGOs and their donors, and encourage them to continue doing so in the future,

  • Regretting that the international dimension of philanthropy is not always taken sufficiently into account in national legislations and that cross-border action by and giving to NGOs is sometimes handicapped by administrative obstacles,

  • Recalling Recommendation 656 (1972) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on equal tax treatment of non-profit organisations, which has been inspired by a proposal for the conclusion of a European convention formulated by Interphil at its 1970 Round Table in Strasbourg,

  • Paying tribute to those countries which have incorporated in their tax policies and laws rules providing for recognition of the legal status and equal tax treatment of foreign or international NGOs,

  • Believing that those rules can serve as useful models for a general international tax régime in favour of NGOs,

  • Bearing in mind the documentary work of (1) the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation in Amsterdam, carried out at the behest of a working group set up by The Europhil Trust and resulting in the publication of "Tax Treatment of Cross-border Donations" (1994, and updates), of (2) the International Institute of Association and Foundation Lawyers in Washington DC, whose series of voluntarily contributed country reports is being published by Kluwer Law International under the title "International Charitable Giving: Laws and Taxation" (1994 and updates), and of (3) the Union of International Association Brussels, whose "Yearbook of International Organisations" is an indispensable source of information on NGOs of every category and orientation,

Recommend Governments

  1. to provide in their domestic law for favourable tax treatment of NGOs and their activities and of their benefactors,
  2. to provide in their domestic law for recognition of the legal personality of foreign and international NGOs and to become parties to the 1986 Convention No 124 of the Council of Europe on that subject,
  3. to grant foreign and international NGOs active in their territory and persons resident in their territory donating to those NGOs abroad at least the same tax treatment as enjoyed by domestic NGOs and their benefactors,
  4. to include favourable tax treatment of NGOs and their benefactors in treaties on avoidance of double taxation,

Recommend Intergovernmental Organisations

  1. to promote within their respective fields of competence and circle of member and observer States favourable and equal tax treatment of all NGOs whose work is beneficial to the community, as well as of their donors,
  2. to draw up a multilateral framework Convention on favourable and equal tax treatment of NGOs and in so doing to take account of the experience available through all appropriate NGOs,

Invite The Europhil Trust

to initiate, in co-operation with other competent NGOs and experts from all regions of the world, the drawing up of fundamental principles and international standards for favourable and equal tax treatment of NGOs and their benefactors.

Bratislava, 17 December 1996

FAX +333 88 561210
P.O.BOX 108,
810 00 BRATISLAVA 1,
FAX +427 5335748,

Return to the Documents Page

Comments and suggestions:
Hari Srinivas -