Can gift aid be considered to be part of your Zakat payment as the government is giving it on your behalf? [Question published as received]
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Gift Aid is a UK government scheme that enhances the financial support that registered charities receive from donors who are taxpayers. The scheme operates by adding a supplement to eligible donations made by taxpayers, thus providing extra funds to charities. The government guidance on gift aid states “If the donor has not paid enough tax to cover the tax deducted from their Gift Aid donations, HMRC may ask the donor to pay the difference in tax and donors must be made aware of this.[i]
The explanation above sheds light on the concept of Gift Aid as an additional payment provided by the government in conjunction with donations made by individuals. This payment cannot be considered as Zakat, as it is not considered as the property of the individual nor a payment on behalf of the taxpayer, but rather as a forfeit by the government to support charitable organisations. The tax payment was owed to the government and is a claim they have on you. When the tax is paid, it belongs to the government and is not the taxpayer’s money.
By enabling the charity to reclaim tax on eligible donations, you are merely expressing your desire for a portion of your tax paid to be donated to charitable causes. The charity then claims that you wish for a portion of your paid taxes to go towards supporting a charity. However, it is important to note that this process is only applicable to donations made to registered charities and is subject to the government’s discretion regarding qualifying donations.
Essentially, the Gift Aid amount is derived from the portion of tax that the individual has already paid and the government supplements the initial donation through their own funds and at their own discretion, which may have originated from the individual’s tax payment. The government does not suggest anywhere that they are paying Zakat on behalf of the taxpayer, nor do they acknowledge anywhere that they are representing the taxpayer in this donation. There is no expression of any intention or representation. Any claim of representation needs to be justified.
The Gift Aid scheme is something that is the discretion of the government, it can change the rules, it can be cancelled, and it can update criteria. Being discretionary, and without any acknowledgement of representation, dissolves any possibility of Gift Aid counting as Zakat.
Therefore, the transaction cannot be deemed to be one of Wakala. In conclusion, this supplement is not a gift nor a payment on behalf of the taxpayer, but rather a government-led initiative aimed at supporting charitable causes. It is the government from their own funds granting a gift at their own discretion to eligible charities.
In practice, most charities treat Gift Aid as ‘unrestricted funds’ and use Gift Aid rightly for operational expenses. Gift Aid is not deemed to be part of Zakat in the Zakat sector and customary practice (‘Urf) of the charity sector. Charities do not spend Gift Aid according to Zakat principles as they are not required to do so. Thus, Gift Aid should never be treated as Zakat, as it is very likely that Gift Aid will be used for a non-Zakat eligible spend and avenue. Of course, charities are perfectly within their right to use Gift Aid in accordance with their policies and financial planning as it is a gift to them from the government.
‘Allāmah ‘Aynī (d.855 AH) states “If one pays Zakat on behalf of another person without their permission, the Zakat shall not be considered valid. However, if the payment is made with their permission, the obligation of Zakat shall be fulfilled”.
Zakat is calculated based on an individual’s own assets and income and is not influenced by any form of government support. The requirement to give Zakat is a personal religious obligation and cannot be conflated with the government’s Gift Aid program. Therefore, the Gift Aid amount should not be considered as a part of one’s Zakat unless there is a clear and unambiguous confirmation that the donation made by the government is a representation of the taxpayer’s contribution and not just an additional supplementing donation from the government itself. The significance of being certain with regards to the fulfilment of Zakat is emphasised by Imām Sarakhsī (d.483 AH) and many other prominent jurists of the Hanafī school, who state that if a person is uncertain about having paid their Zakat, they must pay it again to ensure their obligation has been fulfilled.
And Almighty Allah Alone Knows Best
Maulana Ammar Y Badat
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ولو أدى زكاة غيره من مال نفسه بغير أمره فأجازه لا يجوز وبأمره يجوز. له مائة دين، ومائة عين تجب فيها الزكاة ذكر هذه المسائل في ” منية المفتي “، وتعتبر نية الموكل في الزكاة دون الوكيل، ولو لم يعلم المسكين أنه زكاة يجزئه؛ لأن النية للمزكي قاله شيخ الإسلام، وفي جميع العلوم عن أصحابنا – رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ – أن من أعطى مالا بنية الصدقة والمتصدق عليه لا يعلم أنه يعطيه صدقة لم يكن صدقة، ولم يجزئه عن الزكاة. (البناية شرح الهداية)
وَلَوْ أَدَّى زَكَاةَ غَيْرِهِ بِغَيْرِ أَمْرِهِ فَبَلَغَهُ فَأَجَازَ لَمْ يَجُزْ؛ لِأَنَّهَا وَجَدَتْ نَفَاذًا عَلَى الْمُتَصَدِّقِ؛ لِأَنَّهَا مِلْكُهُ، وَلَمْ يَصِرْ نَائِبًا عَنْ غَيْرِهِ فَنَفَذَتْ عَلَيْهِ وَلَوْ تَصَدَّقَ عَنْهُ بِأَمْرِهِ جَازَ. (البحر الرائق شرح كنز الدقائق)
رَجُلٌ أَدَّى زَكَاةَ غَيْرِهِ عَنْ مَالِ ذَلِكَ الْغَيْرِ فَأَجَازَهُ الْمَالِكُ فَإِنْ كَانَ الْمَالُ قَائِمًا فِي يَدِ الْفَقِيرِ جَازَ، وَإِلَّا فَلَا كَذَا فِي السِّرَاجِيَّةِ
وَلَوْ شَكَّ رَجُلٌ فِي الزَّكَاةِ فَلَمْ يَدْرِ أَزَكَّى أَوْ لَمْ يُزَكِّ فَإِنَّهُ يُعِيدُهَا كَذَا فِي الْمُحِيطِ وَالسِّرَاجِيَّةِ وَالْبَحْرِ الرَّائِقِ نَاقِلًا عَنْ الْوَاقِعَاتِ. (الفتاوى الهندية)
ولو شك رجل في الزكاة، فلم يدرأزكى، أو لم يزكِ، فإنه يعيدها، فرق بين الزكاة وبين الصلاة، فإنه إذا شك في الصلاة بعد ذهاب الوقت أنه صلاها، أو لم يصلها، فإنه لا يعيدها، ولا فرق في المعنى؛ لأن العمر كله وقت أداء الزكاة، فصار الشك فيها بمنزلة شك وقع في الصلاة في الوقت أنه أدى، أو لم يؤد، وهناك يؤمر بالإعادة، فههنا كذلك، والله أعلم. (المحيط البرهاني)