June 13, 2011, 9:45 p.m.
César Murúa & Juan Carballo researched and presented the current state of Civil Society organizations (CSOs) in Argentina in their paper Defending Civil Society: A Study of the Laws and Regulations Governing Civil Society Organizations in Argentina published by the World Movement for Democracy. The paper provides an overview of the establishment and registration of CSOs in Argentina, government oversight and enforcement, as well as the activities of CSOs. Argentina appears to have a positive environment for CSOs to exist and operate. A summary of the authors’ findings can be found below:
- A general human rights framework at the constitutional level is conducive to the work of CSOs.
- A wide margin of discretion in the law may cause serious concerns in implementation of the regulations. This explains in part, the enormous disparity between regions and agencies in the criteria for applying these laws.
- The registration processes for civil associations and foundations are administratively complicated.
- Obtaining tax exempt status is extremely difficult for CSOs. Currently CSOs are working through coalitions to demand additional tax benefits, such as exemption from or reduced rates for the Value Added Tax (VAT, currently at 21%) for their operations, exemption from the Bank Account Debits and Credits tax (6% for each financial transaction), and trade union status for their employees.
- Power is excessively concentrated in the hands of the Federal Public Income Administration [Administración Federal de Ingresos Públicos – AFIP], a tax authorized to determine whether or not a CSO deserves tax exempt status.
- More incentives for donors to obtain an income tax deduction for contributions to CSOs would have an enormous impact on the sustainability and growth of this sector.
- Current frameworks do not allow opportunities to be created for civil society participation and consultation in public policy-making.