That was the question someone asked me last year that that had me thinking to myself, yet again, that Israeli charity legal/tax structure is a language onto itself and should require its own Ulpan.
Towards this end, I hope to clarify in this post the somewhat contradictory concept of a Chevrah LeTo’elet Hatzibur [Public Benefit Company].
A charitable organization has a choice of registering in one of two ways: (1) with the Rasham Ha’amutot [Registar of Charities] as a amutah [charity] or (2) with the Rasham HaChavarot [Registrar of Companies] as a Chevrah LeTo’elet Hatzibur [Public Benefit Company].
In Hebrew, the Chevrah LeTo’elet Hatzibur [חברה לתועלת הציבור] is more commonly called by its acronym, Chalatz [חל"צ].
REGISTRATION & DOCUMENTATION
As the name implies, a Chalatz [Public Benefit Company] is formed as a company, complete with definitive shares and rights of ownership. This is one of the reasons why a nonprofit might choose to register as a Chalatz, as opposed to a charity (the exact pros and cons are beyond the scope of this piece).
Once registered as such, this company must adhere to the same standards, protocols, and certifications if it wishes to be recognized as a nonprofit organization. This means, that a Chalatz must apply to the Registar of Charities for Nihul Takin [Certificate of Proper Management] to receive government grants and obtain a Se’if Arba’im VeSheish [Paragraph 46a] from Mas Hachnasah [Tax Authority] to be considered tax-exempt.
Because it is registered with the Rasham Hachavarot [Companies], a Chalatz will have a different registration prefix than an amutah. The registration number for amutot, registered with Rasham Ha’Amutot [Charities], begins with a “58.” In contrast, a Chalatz will start with a “51.”
Additionally, the names of these corporations in English will generally end with (or contain in parenthesis) the acronyms of PBC (Public Benefit Company) or CC (Charity Corporation).
UNITED STATES COMPARISON
For those readers familiar with United States law, the best comparison to a Chalatz is the newly established L3C type company:
“The L3C’s primary purpose is to conduct activities that further a charitable or educational purpose. Earning a profit is its secondary purpose…the L3C statutes require the managers to pursue the accomplishment of a charitable or educational purpose. They can earn a profit while pursuing their mission, but earning a profit can’t be a significant purpose.” – CharityLawyerBlog
However, while L3C is not eligible for tax-deductible gifts, a Chalatz certainly can be.
Again, it is important to stress that a charitable organization designated as an amutah or a Chalatz does not automatically qualify for tax-exempt status.
With that said, there is a way to check if a company is at least defined as a Chalatz…as long as you understand one basic concept: The databases for amutot and PBCs are separate. Thus, any person doing research must first know with which government body – Rasham Ha’amutot [Charity] or Rasham Hachavarot [Company] – the organization is registered.
Assuming that the said organization is registered as a company, basic information can be found at the Ministry of Justice site for the Registrar of Companies: http://ow.ly/2GAk7. Information can be found through either the company’s name in Hebrew or its mispar chevrah [company number].
- When found, after the company’s name in Hebrew will be the acronym חל”צ, generally in parentheses.
- When clicking on the company’s number, the reader will be taken to another page that provides additional details of the company. The lowest row of the table lists תיאור החברה [Company Description]. The description will start with the words: מטרות ציבוריות בלבד [Public Purposes Only] and will then be followed by the now familiar phraseחברה לתועלת הציבור [Public Benefit Company].
While any of these two pieces designates a charitable company, having both there will seal the deal. Item #2 is copied from the description that the company submits to the Registrar of Companies upon opening and is both helpful and telling.
If you’re already on the net, here are some other good links to try:
Rasham Ha’amutot [Registrar of Charities] (Hebrew) - Basic information about Israel’s charitable organizations registered with the Registrar of Charities.
Rasham Hachavarot [Registrar of Companies] (Hebrew) - Basic information about Israel’s companies (including PBCs) registered with the Registrar of Companies.
Guidestar Israel (Hebrew and English) – FOR CHECKING AMUTOT ONLY. The site has yet to incorporate those organizations registered with the Registrar of Companies as PBCs. Here you can find scanned financial statements and other basic information about Israel’s charities.
Mas Hachnasah [Tax Authority] – Tax Exempt Status, Donations (Paragraph 46a Status) – Ability to check if an amutah or chalatz has tax-exempt status.
Disclaimer: This document is intended to summarize and provide basic information and should not to be considered advice. This document should not replace nor supplant recommendations by licensed professionals; such as accountants and/or lawyers. Additionally, this summary might not reflect updates to the Ministry of Justice and/or associated internet sites.