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Optimistic wheeze for the New Year

Howard Lake | 24 December 2008 | Blogs

The FT managed to sneak an interesting story
in on Christmas Eve, full of hope for overseas development fundraising for the New Year.
Nobel Prize-winning economist, Sir James Mirrlees and founder of the Fortune Forum networking organisation for the super-rich, Renu Mehta and have drawn up a scheme, eponymously called the Mirrlees/Mehta (MM) proposal. Their proposal is to incentivise giving to some of the UN’s millenium development goals by offering 50% tax relief on donations. The scheme does two clever things: it alleviate the government’s promise to spend taxes on the millenium goals by raising private donations, while making giving more palatable for the 40% tax payers, by giving them more back than they can with the current gift aid rules.
With all the doom and gloom in the papers about the recession being worse than previously estimated (which I’m sure we all expected anyway) you may wonder who these rich people are that Mirrlees and Mehta think will donate. However, in any recession, there are always a category of people who do quite well, as their buying power goes up in contrast to prices going down. What better way to deal with the guilt of not being too badly off in a recession than giving to the Third World and getting a tax benefit in the process? It could actually work. Mirrlees isn’t a Nobel prize winner for nothing.
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