Registration and Operation of NGOs, Taxation of NGOs,  Public Funding for NGOs and NGO Participation in Decision-making
 
 
Registration and Operation of NGOs, Taxation of NGOs, Public Funding for NGOs and NGO Participation in Decision-making

By Tevfik Basak Ersen  - Turkey

Third Sector Foundation in Turkey (TUSEV)
Sofia 2009

 

CHARTER 1: Registration and operation of NGOs

  • Legal forms of NGOs

Foundations and associations are legal forms of NGOs in Turkey. All related questions will be answered separately for associations and foundations in the research.

  1. Who can register an NGO
  • It is free for all Turkish citizens to establish a foundation however some limitations remain for foreigners. Foreigners can establish foundations but the majority of the board of the foundation should reside in Turkey.
  • All Turkish citizens can establish or be members of associations. But some limitations remain for military and security personnel and the judges and attorneys working under the Ministry of Justice.
  • All legal entities can form or become members of NGOs.
  • Physical persons have to be over 18 years in order to become founders or members of NGOs. However it is possible for children between 12-18 years to form children associations. Adults can not be members of children associations.
  1. Is there a minimum capital requirement

There is no capital requirement for associations. A minimum of 50.000Turkish Liras (app.35.000 USD) is required for foundations.

  1. Is there a minimum requirement for founders/members

At least seven founders are needed to establish an association. There is no minimum requirement regarding founders/members for foundations.

  1. Where are NGO registered

Associations are registered by the Ministry of Interior Department of Associations. There is a separate public body affiliated to the Prime Ministry for foundations called General Directorate of Foundations.

  1. Grounds for refusal of registration and grounds for termination of registration

Registration of NGOs can be refused only if their purpose is against the constitution or laws. If an NGO is dealing with illegal acts it can be terminated by a court order.

  1. Structure of the NGOs

All associations have to form a General Assembly, Executive Board of five persons and an Auditing Committee of three persons. Foundations only have to form an administrative body of at least one person. But in real life they are encouraged to have board of at least 3 persons. However in reality many of them establish auditing committees as well.

  1. Is there a public benefit status in your country?

There is public benefit status for NGOs in Turkey however only a very limited number of NGOs benefit from the status. The status is given by the Council of Ministers making the process highly political.

  1. Reporting requirements and oversight authorities

Both associations and foundations have to do annual reporting to Department of Associations or General Directorate of Foundations respectively. If an NGO has public benefit status an additional reporting to the Ministry of Finance is also required.

  1. Possibility for direct economic activity

Both associations and foundations can establish/may become partners in economic enterprises or companies. It is permitted to have direct economic activity but all economic activities are subject to corporate taxation regardless  of executed by a separate legal entity or not.

  1. Possibility to register a commercial company

If  NGOs prefer to establish an economic enterprise it will not have a separate legal personality and the entity will operate under the NGOs legal personality. Whereas establishing companies requires a separate legal personality under the Ministry of Trade which operate as private companies.

  1. Possibilities to engage in political/public policy activity

Political activities are prohibited for all NGOs in Turkey but in reality lot of NGOs deal with political activities especially in the field of public policy.

 

 

CHARTER 2:Taxation of NGOs

      • Is NGO income taxed?

NGOs are not subject to income tax in Turkey.

      • Is there a tax on the NGO's economic activity income?

All economic activities are subject to corporate tax like an ordinary economic enterprise/company.

      • Is there a tax on donations?

All donations are exempt from gift and inheritance tax.

      • Are there exemptions for donors of NGOs (both physical or legal)?

There is very limited tax exemption for the donors. Only donations up to 5% of the annual income made to public benefit organizations are exempt from corporate/income tax.

      • Is there a tax on income from passive investments (interest on deposits, dividends, etc)?

Income from passive investments are subject to income taxation of 10% to 15%.

      • Are there taxes on the property owned by NGOs?

Properties owned by NGOs are subject to Property Tax. However there is limited exemption for the property used for NGOs purpose for public benefit organizations.

      • Is there an inheritance tax on property inherited by an NGO?

NGOs are exempt from inheritance tax

      • Is there tax on grants?

There is no tax on grants.

      • Is there any limitation on foreign funding (e.g. there needs to be a preliminary approval of the state, it can be only a certain percentage of your total income, etc.)

There is no limitation on foreign funding. NGOs have to notify public authorities after receiving foreign funding in a month.

      • Are there any exemptions from VAT for NGOs?

There is no VAT exemption for NGOs.

CHARTER 3: Public funding for NGOs

  1. Is there a special government program providing grants to NGOs?

There is no special government program providing grants to NGOs.

  1. Are there organizations that receive direct state subsidies because they are important or represent the interests of certain groups (e.g. the Red Cross or Union of Blind)?

Some organizations receive public funding. But there is no regulation, standard or "code good practice" for the use of public funds.

  1. Are there examples of local authorities providing funds to NGOs for certain activities?

Local authorities provide more funding to NGOs than central government. However the lack of regulations on the use of public funds creates arbitrary implementation.

  1. Are there cases when the state/local authorities hire an NGO to provide certain services or perform a certain task e.g. prepare a legislative analysis or provide food to old people.

It is not legally possible for state to hire an NGO.

  1. Can NGOs take part in public procurement procedures and get contracts?

NGOs can take part in public procurement procedures and get contracts like ordinary companies as long as they comply with the regulations of the procurement.

  1. Are state funds provided in a decentralized way (e.g. each ministry gives grants in its own area or there is one institution giving grants in different areas)

NGOs may receive central or decentralized funds but because of the lack of regulations on the allocation of public funds the amounts of the public funds are unknown.

 

 

CHARTER 4: NGO participation in decision-making

  1. Is there a state strategy for NGO-government relations?

There are no written strategy NGO-government relations.

  1. Is there a ministry or agency responsible for relations with NGOs?

Department of Associations and General Directorate of Foundations are the responsible bodies for NGO relations. But the relations are weak and there are no standards setting the rules for relationship.

  1. Is there a Parliamentary commission responsible for NGO issues?

There is no Parliamentary Commission responsible for NGO issues.

  1. Can NGO easily take part in debates in parliamentary committees?

It is very hard to have access to parliamentary committees. Only very limited NGOs have access with an invitation from the head of the parliamentary committees.

  1. Is there a legal requirement for ministries/parliament to publish draft laws on their websites and ask for comments from the public?

All law drafts are published under the parliament webpage. Also most of the rough copies of the drafts are published on the web pages of the Prime Ministry and related Ministries for public consultation.

  1. Are there joint bodies between the administration and NGOs for consultations on different issues?

There are no joint bodies for consultations.

  1. Is there a legal act or other state document requiring the administration to consult with NGOs?

There is a Regulation on Draft Making that set the rules for the consultation of public authorities to NGOs on arbitrary basis.

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