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The use of charitable status as a basis for regulation of nonprofit accounting

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In the UK, much regulation of nonprofit organisations (NPOs) is linked to charitable status – but a charity is not a legal form: many types of organisation can be recognised as charities if they meet certain tests, and not all NPOs are charities. Recent legislation has introduced changes to the definition of charity, and significant changes in the regulation of charities, especially on accounting issues, were implemented in England and Wales in 1996 with updates in 2000, 2005, 2008 and 2009. A different charity accounting regime applies in Scotland, and new proposals were recently enacted in Northern Ireland. Yet the UK has no specific accounting framework for those NPOs that are not charities: everything hinges on the issue of charitable status. Drawing on legislative analysis, existing literature and fieldwork, this paper asks how far the various charity reforms implemented over the period 1996–2009 have led to an effective basis for the regulation of NPO accounting in the UK.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 2010

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  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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