The Tax and Customs Administration unjustly investigated the As-Soennah mosque in The Hague, which allegedly cheated with donations. The case revolves around the withdrawal of the so-called ANBI status of the mosque. But what is an ANBI status? And when will it be granted (or withdrawn)?
ANBI (Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling) is a status that entitles a charity to certain tax benefits. For example, if you donate money to such a foundation, the gift is tax-deductible.
To become an ANBI, as a foundation you must meet certain conditions.
The most important condition that an institution must meet is that it must devote at least 90 percent to ‘the common good’. This means that the majority of the activities and objectives must be aimed at society, and not at the foundation itself. For example, almost all volunteers at the Food Bank are used to help people in poverty, and not to help the Food Bank itself.
The foundation may also not have a profit motive. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make a profit at all. But the activities you do for the public good – that is, those 90 percent – should not generate profit. Profit may be made from activities intended to raise money. But that profit must be used for the foundation itself.
In addition, all people must work directly with the institution involved to certain integrity requirements to fulfil. For example, everyone must have a VOG (certificate of conduct) and the persons involved may not have been convicted of a crime.
Volunteers may receive money for their work, but there are conditions. Policymakers, such as members of the supervisory board, should only be reimbursed when they have incurred expenses. There is also a fee for other activities for the foundation. This is a small amount that is partly determined by the level of the civil servant’s salary.
The person or persons who manage or manage the foundation may not individually determine what happens to the assets of the institution. This means that the managers are not allowed to handle the assets of the ANBI as if it were their own money.
It also means that none of the administrators should have a decisive say in what happens to it. That is why it is often included in the articles of association of a foundation that the board must consist of at least three persons. In that case, all three persons have an equal vote. In the case of two people, someone can have a casting vote.
The ANBI status can also be revoked. This happens if a foundation no longer meets the conditions, or if the institution wishes to terminate its status itself. The Tax and Customs Administration can also carry out checks to determine whether a foundation still meets the conditions.
Why the As-Sunnah Mosque lost its status is not exactly clear. In 2018, an investigation revealed that the mosque received foreign gifts and spread intolerant messages. A few months after this investigation, the ANBI status was withdrawn. The Tax and Customs Administration, which can grant and withdraw the status, could not say anything about individual cases.