Consider tax exemption for a cause

The universe has a unique way of working and we never know how and when it brings us an opportunity to support and do something good for others. Here is a small incidence that introduced me to the path of charity. Just a week ago, I was consulting with my friend on how to cut down on tax. During the discussion, we came upon various ways such as housing loan, house rent allowance, children education allowance, medical insurance, donations, and the like. Though I had heard of these means, but contributing donation was something new for me. Curiously, I furthered the discussion on it. And, patiently my friend familiarised me with the whole concept of tax deduction on charity, the gist of which I have narrated below.

Food for children

Witnessing the impactful groundwork of NGOs, the Government of India has made a provision wherein contributing donations to registered NGOs or charitable trusts can exempt you from paying taxes on the donated amount under Section 80G. You can either claim for 100% or 50% exemption on the donated amount based upon the NGO you have donated and the terms set by the Income Tax Act. This is applicable for both online donations and offline donations.

For instance, I identify with children-specific causes such as the right to education, child rights, and child health and development. So, I chose to contribute my taxable income to The Akshaya Patra Foundation, an NGO for children implementing the Mid-Day Meal Programme in association with the Central Government of India and various State Governments. The Mid-Day Meal Programme is an initiative that provides freshly cooked nutritious school lunch to government school and government-aided school children on all school days. And, Akshaya Patra aims at providing ‘unlimited food for education’ with the intention of supporting the education of children. This NGO has been in the service of children for the past 17 years, with a current beneficiary base of over 1.6 million children across 34 locations in 12 states of India. The tangible impact of Akshaya Patra is clearly visible in the stories of children and the impact studies that have been conducted in association with third-party research agencies.

Personally, I was convinced with the service of Akshaya Patra and decided to make my foray into charity by donating to the Foundation. For more information on charity tax exemption, just click on tax-deductible donations. I am glad that I am saving tax by supporting millions of children, and would suggest everyone to connect with the cause.

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Do items in your shopping basket add up to Rs. 95?

“Your total bill amount is Rs. 3,542”, said the cashier as he handed over the bill to me.
I took out my wallet, paid him the amount. And, as he was packing the items in a bag, I wondered ‘has my needs increased, am I buying impulsively, or has the prices of the commodities skyrocketed.’

Shopping basket

Graphically speaking, I fail to understand how my grocery bill constantly shows an upward trend every month. I don’t remember when was the last time somebody handed me a bill of below Rs. 1,000. It does bother me, but again with the usual humdrum and busy schedule, I forget about it until the next shopping. And, then came the moment of truth when on a regular day at work, I saw my colleague donating to an NGO named The Akshaya Patra Foundation. After she finished her transaction, I enquired about the NGO. Her reply completely left me amazed.

She said, “Akshaya Patra is an NGO for children that provide food to government school children on every school day. The NGO has been operating the school meal programme for the past 17 years. It has a pan-India presence and presently serves school lunch to more than 1.6 million children.” At this, I stopped her and said that it must be a really expensive affair because grocery for one household itself costs somewhere between Rs. 2,500 – Rs. 3,000. My colleague smiled and said, “Akshaya Patra feeds 3 children for an entire year with Rs. 2,850.” And, she pointed towards the donation page of the NGO. I was totally stumped at what I had just heard and what I was seeing on the screen.

She added, “Though I am in a situation where I can afford food, I know how the hunger pangs feel. On the days when I have to skip my breakfast and rush to office, or skip my lunch to complete a report, my body and mind give up. It becomes very difficult to remain focussed on what I am doing. Well then, what about those children who aren’t even sure of getting their next meal. This particular fact drew me to support Akshaya Patra’s cause because their effort ensures at least one nutritious meal per day. That’s why on every special occasion like my birthday, my parents anniversary or during festivals I make online donations for NGO.”

And, before I could process all that she was saying, my colleague scrolled down the page and said, “When you donate to Akshaya Patra, you also become eligible for 80G deduction on your donated amount. This means the amount you donate becomes eligible for tax exemption, a benefit that you can utilise at the time of income tax filing.”

That evening, to find answers to the innumerable questions popping in my head, I read up on the humongous task that Akshaya Patra is doing. In the end, I realised that maybe I can never bring down my grocery bill, but I sure can ensure nutritious meals for children for an entire year with an amount less than my monthly grocery expense. And convinced with Akshaya Patra’s endeavour, I took my first ever step towards contributing charity!

How you can make a difference this new year

It’s been over a week since we entered 2018. And, most of us would have strictly tried to stick to our New Year resolutions. Most popular among them, of course, are those relating to diet and weight loss.

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Most of us would have probably started slacking off on the resolutions to exercise every day or go for a walk every day. While looking for a resolution, why not look for something that you believe you can stick with, instead of doing something that you know is easy to not stick to.

It’s still not too late to start off on a resolution. Why not resolve to donate to charity this year. You could do so by contributing for the causes supported by The Akshaya Patra Foundation. By opting for regular payments, you will be happy that you are able to stick to the resolution and, the best of all, contribute to a worthy cause.

Impact from Reach

Akshaya Patra’s Mid-Day Meal today reaches over 1.6 million children across the said 12 states in the country. The children are supplied from 34 kitchens from 12 states.

A mere Rs 950 can feed a school-going child for a whole year. Imagine, the impact such a small amount can have.

The change that it can bring out in the life of a child by guaranteeing he/she can stay at school and not worry about lunch ensures that the child can stay focused on the task at hand, that of learning.  This is perhaps the biggest of the advantages of mid-day meal scheme.

The funds needed to support the growing movement, no less, can in fact be boosted. This can ensure that the children continue to enjoy wholesome meals every day. The Foundation has been tech-savvy. It has taken to online fundraising to stay with the times so that you can be part of the movement.