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Charitable Donations under the Charities Act 2013

The process of registering Charities under Jamaica’s Charities Act, commenced officially on 24th December 2013.  Based on the provisions of the Act, charitable donations can now be more easily sent to recipients in Jamaica, once they have been officially registered as a charitable organization.  These Charitable Organizations on receipt of their Registration Certificates are entitled to relief from Customs Duties, General Consumption Tax, Special Consumption Tax and Additional Stamp Duty on donations that are sent from overseas. 

The following provides general information on the definitions which are used as well as details about the registration process:

Definitions:

  • A “Charitable Organization” is defined as:

a) a Charitable Trust or

b) any institution whether incorporated or not, which is established for a charitable purpose exclusively; or is intended to and does operate for the public and has no part of its net income or assets inuring to the personal benefit of any governing board member or settler of the organization, or of any other private individual, but shall not include an excluded body;

  • A “Charitable Trust is defined as a trust that:  

a) is established for a charitable purpose exclusively

b) is established under a deed or trust; that requires the trustees of the trust to apply all of the property (both real and personal) of the trust in furtherance of that purpose except for moneys expended in the management of the trust;

c) has no part of its net income or assets inuring to the personal benefit of any Board Member or settler of the organization, or of any other private individual, but shall not include an excluded body;

  • Under the Charities Act, 2013, a “charitable purpose” is a purpose specified in the First Schedule, as one that is for the public benefit and is available to members of the public at large or is available to a section of the public, and is ascertained by reference to some specified geographical area but does not include a benefit, as described  in paragraph (a), if the persons for whom it is intended to be available are to be ascertained primarily by reference to their relationship with a particular person or body of persons, whether that relationship is one of blood, status, contract or otherwise; 
  • Charitable Purpose includes the following 

a) the prevention or relief of poverty;

b) the advancement of education;

c) the advancement of religion;

d) the advancement of health or saving of lives;

e) the advancement of good citizenship or community development;

f) the advancement of the arts, culture, heritage or science;

g) the advancement of amateur sports;

h) the advancement of human rights conflict resolution or reconciliation;

i) the promotion of religion or racial harmony or equality and diversity;

j) the advancement of environmental protection/improvement;

k) the advancement of animal welfare;

l) the relief of those in need because of youth, advanced age, ill-health, disability,    financial hardship or other disadvantage (including temporary disadvantages such as the effects of a public disaster or public emergency);

m) the promotion of the efficiency of the armed forces or efficiency of the police forces;

n) a purpose specified by the Minister by order, subject to negative resolution of the House of Representatives, as being analogous to a purpose mentioned at (a) to (m); 

Submission of Applications:

  • Applications from all Charitable Organizations for tax relief/ tax exemption must be made to the Department of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies.  All entities that are seeking charitable status will be required to obtain approval under Sections 14 and 15 of the Charities Act 2013, through the Department of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies.  (See contact details at the end of the document); 
  • Waivers and tax relief are provided under the following elements of Schedule 3: The Customs Act, the General Consumption Act, the Income Tax Act, the Property Tax Act, the Stamp Duty Act and the Transfer Tax Act 
  • For shipments to multiple beneficiaries, each beneficiary must be registered and named on the shipping documents; 
  • The donor should be able to provide the name of the beneficiary;  
  • The beneficiary must be registered under the Charities Act;  
  • Schools are beneficiaries of educational material under the Second Schedule and sportswear under the Third Schedule of the Customs Act;  
  • Churches which receive donations are required to be registered under the Charities Act;  
  • All Charitable Organizations should present the approved Charitable Organization Certificate and a valid Tax Compliance Certificate to the Collector of Customs for processing in order to receive duty free privileges from the Jamaica Customs Agency.  
  • The documents are then verified and affixed a locator number (cc#);  
  • The relevant documents are sent to the respective Customs Directors and Managers; 
  • Charitable Organizations are entitled to relief of Customs Duties, General Consumption Tax, Special Consumption Tax and Additional Stamp Duty on general cargo.  They will however be required to pay the Environmental Levy and Customs Administrations fee (CAF) on general cargo.  
  • Approved Charitable organizations are subject to post audits from both the Jamaica Customs Agency and Tax Administration Jamaica from time to time. 

The Department of Co-operatives & Friendly Societies is an Agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment & Commerce.  The Department can be contacted at: 

2 Musgrave Avenue

Kingston 10

Tel. (876) 978-1946/927-6572

Email: Contact Us/Feedback

Website: www.dcfsjamaica.org

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Jamaican High Commission

London