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Donations for the conservation of heritage: How does it work?

An architectural treasure went up in smoke on the night of 15 April in Paris. Built in the 13th century, the wooden rafters of the cathedral of Notre-Dame of Paris was named “the Forest”, since no less than 1,300 oaks were required to build it. The devastation is substantial. However, once we recover from our shock, it’s time to rebuild. While it is impossible to quantify, one thing is nevertheless certain: the cost will be exorbitant. Fortunately, there was a huge outpouring of solidarity after the fire started. This is an opportunity to review the popular philanthropic tax provisions and benefits in France, which have had growing success.

How to make a donation for the preservation or restoration of a monument

As an individual, you can participate in the preservation or restoration of a monument by making a donation. The simplest and most efficient way is to go through a project or institution serving the public interest or recognised as a non-profit public utility which falls within the limited categories listed by by law.
The foundations will not be in competition because donations will be combined.

Solidarity pools can also be launched, which will of course be the case for Notre-Dame de Paris. However, these pools would not qualify for a tax deduction, unlike institutions like the  Fondation du Patrimoine, because they do not meet the conditions for granting an income tax deduction for donations.

* private independent non-profit entity, recognised as a not-profit public utility



What are the tax advantages?

The government allows a tax deduction equal to 66% of total payments up to a limit of 20% of taxable household income.  To benefit from such reduction, the donation must be made without consideration and to an institution or project serving the public interest or recognised non-profit public utility falling within one of the limited categories listed by law.

When the amount of donations made exceeds the annual limit of 20% of the donor’s taxable income, the excess can be carried forward over the five years after the donation is made. The taxpayer therefore benefits from the tax deduction with the same conditions.

The recipient institution has the legal obligation to provide a tax receipt. The receipt must indicate the date of payment, the amount of the donation and the identity of the beneficiaries. This receipt must be presented by the donor upon request by the tax administration.[1]. In addition, donations to institutions serving the general interest or recognised as a non-profit public utility must be declared in box 7UF of the 2042-RICI income tax declaration form. In the case of Notre-Dame de Paris, the donation must be declared in the 2019 income tax filing that will be made in 2020. Note that, despite the fact that withholding at the source went into effect on 1 January 2019, income tax reductions for donations were maintained for the 2018 year. In January 2019, the taxpayer received a payment of 60% of the amount of this tax reduction for donations made in 2017. Depending on the taxpayer’s situation for 2018, the balance will be paid in July 2019 after filing the 2018 tax declaration in the spring of 2019.

[1] If the taxpayer files his income tax declaration online, the receipts do not have to be attached to the declaration. However, taxpayers who file a paper tax declaration (now uncommon), remain subject to the obligation to attach the receipts to their declaration.

For companies, a tax reduction of 60% of the amount of the donation is applied, regardless of their tax regime (IS or IR), up to the limit of 5% of annual revenues. This 5% annual revenue limit applies to the amount of the donation and not the related reduction.


What types of donations are generally tax deductible?

To be tax deductible, donations made by the taxpayer to an institution or association meeting the legal conditions correspond to the payment of a sum of money. However, donations may also take other legally authorised forms. An example would be payments of membership fees, expenses incurred with respect to a  charitable activity or donations in kind.

If they are made for the benefit of an eligible institution or project (i.e., serving the general interest or recognised as a non-profit public utility which falls within one of the limited categories listed by law), theses donations allow for a reduction of income taxes when no consideration is received in return for their payment.

Note: donations made for the benefit of an institution located in a member state of the European Union, Iceland, Norway or Liechtenstein also qualify for the reduction of taxes.



An extraordinary commitment for the reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris




To date, the Fondation du Patrimoine has already collected €11 million in donations from private individuals.

Moreover, donations pledged by several wealthy families and corporations exceeded €800 million the day after the event. The three most wealthy families alone have donated half a million euros. There are, in addition, several commitments in kind: Groupama announced its offer of 1,300 oaks to be harvested from its forests in Normandy, “to respect the work of its fellow citizens of the era”, for the “reconstruction of the framework” of the cathedral. Air France has indicated that it will provide “free transportation for all official participants in the reconstruction”. It will also institute a system for collections from its customers.

For its part, Crédit Agricole will be closely associated with the system put in place by the French government. The Crédit Agricole Pays de France Foundation has decided to immediately release an initial amount of €5 million to deal with emergency measures, including €1 million provided by Crédit Agricole Ile-de-France.



Crédit Agricole is a pioneer of cultural philanthropy in France

Thanks to the joint action of the Regional Banks and the  Crédit Agricole Foundation–France, created in 1979, Crédit Agricole is leading a local sponsorship to promote local heritage.  Crédit Agricole’s support aims to sustain and enhance the architectural, cultural and natural heritage of the French regions, with a specific goal: to contribute to the vitality of their cultural, economic and social fabric. As a patron builder as well, Crédit Agricole has made possible the construction of structures that are emblematic of the French identity, such as the Cité du Vin, inaugurated in June 2016, and the French Pavilion at the Universal Exposition in Milan. It also participated in the renovation of the Château de Fontainebleau and the Collège des Bernardins in Paris. Crédit Agricole is a founding member of the Fondation du Patrimoine, demonstrating its commitment to promoting the preservation of heritage,  For the third consecutive year, it was also a partner of the European Heritage Days (JEP) in 2018.



Read more:

Crédit Agricole, 40 years of sponsorship for cultural heritage

Le Crédit Agricole, a committed ambassador promoting heritage


Sources: Capital.fr, Le Figaro, La Dépêche, AFP

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