Snapshots on non-profit law and tax worldwide

This column provides highlights of recent legal and fiscal developments affecting non-profit organizations (NPOs). It is necessarily selective. Further information on these and other relevant subjects can be found in recent issues of SEAL Magazine or the International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law (IJNL) or the International Journal of Civil Society Law.[1]

Three major developments in NPO legislation

In Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan there have been major developments in the laws affecting NPOs. The new legislation mostly enhances the legal environment for NPOs in a region where government regulation has not been entirely hospitable to the sector in the past and will make it easier for foreign donors to work with NPOs there.

In March 2003, the government approved the ‘State Program of Government Support for NPOs’, ending a stand-off between the State and NPO sector. It will hopefully usher in a more cooperative relationship, enabling Kazakh NPOs to operate more freely and more cooperatively with donors as well.

On the other hand, proposed legislation on ‘NGOs’ can be seen as problematic because it would impose new and difficult restrictions on the activities of both foreign and domestic organizations operating in Kazakhstan. ICNL has advised against adoption of the legislation on these grounds and also because it is duplicative and misleading.

The new Tax Code provides income tax exemption for humanitarian aid, grants, donations, income on endowments and membership and entrance fees; a raised allowance for deductible contributions to PBOs, from 2 per cent to 5 per cent; and VAT exemption for goods and services provided by PBOs for public benefit purposes.

A new law ‘On State Registration of Legal Entities’ will simplify registration procedures for NPOs (called non-commercial organizations in the law), reduce registration fees and require the registration body to give reasons for denying registration.

These developments were reported by ICNL in a press release dated 21 April 2003.

Based on an article written by Paul Bater of International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation ( for the April issue of IJCSL. He can be contacted at

Karla Simon is Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Civil Society Law, and Professor of Law, Catholic University of America. She can be contacted at

1 SEAL is published by the European Foundation Centre under the auspices of its Orpheus Programme. It is available by subscription or online at

IJNL is published by ICNL and available online at or by email subscription.

IJCSL is published by the Catholic University of America School of Law. It is available at

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