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Tax-deductible donations in 2015 up by more than 24% in Singapore

TAX-DEDUCTIBLE donations in Singapore rose by more than 24 per cent to S$1.4 billion last year, according to the 2015 annual report by the office of the Commissioner of Charities (COC) released on Friday.

This was largely spurred by the increase in tax deduction to 300 per cent from 250 per cent to encourage more charitable giving in celebration of Singapore's Golden Jubilee in 2015, it said.

The social and welfare, education and health sectors continued to account for 80 per cent of the donations. Contributions to the arts and heritage sector nearly tripled to close to S$150 million.

"This substantial increase in donations can be attributed to the raising of the lifetime funding cap for each organisation under the Cultural Matching Fund, from S$10 million to S$15 million in 2015," Commissioner of Charities Low Puk Yeong said in the report.

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Mr Low added that in 2015, the Charity Council set up many new collaborations to help strengthen governance standards. It also made available the annual reports of all charities and the governance evaluation checklist of charities to which the code of governance applies.

To encourage good disclosure practices among charities, the office of the COC worked closely with the Charity Council to develop the Charity Transparency Framework (CTF). The CTF is a self-assessment scorecard for charities, introduced in July 2015. Charities which are assessed to have exemplary disclosure practices using the CTF will be recognised at the inaugural Charity Transparency Awards in September 2016.

"This has engendered greater transparency and accountability in the sector, and will help the public make more informed decisions in giving and volunteering," Mr Low said.

The office of the COC also raised last year awareness among charities about the risks of being used as channels for terrorist financing.