Ms Anthea Ong: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) what is the reason for the low take-up rate of the Business and Institution of a Public Character Partnership Scheme whereby employees of businesses can undertake volunteering hours; (b) what will be done to address the issues; and (c) whether the Ministry will review the scheme to include assets, such as the space used by charities and for charitable purposes, and other forms of corporate-giving to further encourage tripartite partnerships.
- Minister Grace Fu: We share Ms Ong’s desire to see more companies take up the Business and Institution of a Public Character Partnership Scheme – or BIPS – which was introduced by the Government to encourage more employee volunteerism. BIPS offer businesses a 250% tax deduction on basic wages and related expenses incurred when their employees volunteer or provide services to Institutions of Public Character (IPC).
- To better understand their feedback, we organised a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) together with MOF and the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) last year with businesses and IPCs on BIPS. We found two main areas for improvement: firstly, awareness among both businesses and IPCs about BIPS; and secondly, the administrative ease of the scheme.
- We will do more to raise awareness of BIPS. NVPC will actively promote the scheme to businesses, such as through their corporate giving guide and Company of Good Fellowship programme. We will also share about BIPS with the IPCs through the Commissioner of Charities’ platforms and outreach events.
- We are working to refine the administrative processes for tax claims, both for businesses and IPCs. Today, businesses claim tax deduction based on the pro-rated wages of individual employees who had volunteered. We will provide an alternative for businesses who prefer to claim based on fixed man-hour rates. We expect this to take effect from the Year of Assessment 2020.
- Regarding Ms Anthea Ong’s suggestion for BIPS to include assets, the scheme currently allows businesses to claim tax deductions for other qualifying expenditures, such as rental of spaces, if they are incurred as part of the volunteering activity. We can do much more to grow employee volunteerism, and will focus on improving the existing scheme and making its administrative processes more seamless and convenient for both businesses and IPCs. We thank Ms Ong for her suggestion for BIPS to include assets, and will also take it into consideration as we review our strategies to encourage corporate giving.