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Independent schools: charitable status, public benefit and UDI

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In England and Wales 'independent schools' ('private schools' or, confusingly, 'public schools') almost always have 'charitable status'. Hence, they are now subject to the new 'public benefit' test imposed in the Charities Act 2006. There is much discussion as to whether this test will be a significant hurdle as set by the Charity Commission in interpreting the legislation. Or will the test be in practice one easily met? This article assumes that the public benefit test will be serious, involving a significant cost of compliance for independent schools, and asks at what point for a typical independent school that cost might exceed the value of the tax advantages of charitable status so that the school may prefer to sacrifice charitable status and instead operate in the same way as any other commercial business.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: New College, Oxford, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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