Non-profit law in Slovakia has been through considerable changes during the past year. New laws on foundations and on non-profit organizations have been adopted, plus a law allowing individuals to assign 1 per cent of their tax to a non-profit organization, along the lines of the Hungarian 1 per cent law.
The new law on foundations begins to provide a satisfactory definition of foundations for the first time. It defines foundations as property associations with a minimum foundation capital of SKK 200,000. Previous regulations were very largely based on the rules applying to businesses, which meant that foundations had registered capital, but nevertheless fulfilling a function different from the role of registered capital in businesses. The new law defines a foundation as a property association with a specific purpose, ie promotion of goals related to the public good. These goals include promotion and protection of spiritual and cultural values, the environment, health, and children's and youth's rights, promotion of science, education, physical education and delivering humanitarian aid.
The new law also defines the activity of foundations - as providing financial and non-financial resources from the foundation's property to third persons and administration of the foundation's property.
At the same time, the Parliament adopted an amended law on non-profit organizations providing public benefit services, which are to be established exclusively for direct performance of such services. Among other things, it eliminates the limit of 4 per cent for administration costs set by the previous law, which had made things difficult for these organizations.
One of the most important laws affecting the non-profit sector, adopted on 1 January 2002, allows 'natural persons' or individuals to assign 1 per cent of their tax for public benefit goals. Under this law, people can assign 1 per cent of their tax to a variety of non-profit organizations, including foundations. This happened for the first time this March, and full results are not yet known.
This process of assigning 1 per cent of tax will be repeated every year. As of 1 January 2004, the law will also allow legal entities, which includes companies, to assign 1 per cent of their tax for public benefit purposes.
Peter Haňdiak is attorney for the Slovak Donors' Forum. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org First published in Alliance, Vol. 7, No.3, June 2002. See www.allavida.org/alliance