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Taxman denies Wikipedia UK charity status

Decision unlikely to be amended

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Wiki-fiddling isn't a charitable activity, according to the UK tax man. Revenue and Customs is denying tax privileges that go with charity status to Wikimedia UK, or Wiki UK Limited, as it's officially registered.

Wikimedia requested that because it is "disseminating knowledge", the operating company should receive charitable tax perks, stating its objective is to "aid and encourage people to collect, develop and effectively disseminate knowledge and other educational, cultural and historic content in the public domain or under a license that allows everyone to freely use, distribute and modify content... [blah blah]"

Alas, the tax man didn't agree that merely curating and publishing the world's most intensely-edited [citation needed] compendium of Lightsaber combat and female pornographic film actors doesn't count as education.

"The production of an encyclopaedia is not the charitable advancement of education and has not been accepted as such in law... If the object [should] be the mere increase of knowledge it is not in itself a charitable object unless it is combined with teaching or education," Customs responded in declining the request.

Harsh, or what?

The problem could be solved if, as everyone expects, Wikipedia becomes a commercial operation that doesn't need charitable status. Bono-backed VC company Elevation Partners has chucked $1.35m at Wikipedia, and the Mozilla Foundation provides a workable legal precedent: a non-profit with a commercial wing. License changes are currently being mooted.

But for now, the fiddlers could find ways of making the operation look more edukashnul and that. We suggest Wikia UK establish a British School of Fiddling, in which the public can be tutored in the labyrinthine layers of bureaucracy required to have their edits to "the Encyclopedia anybody can edit" rejected. ®

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