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Difference Between Religious Trust And Charitable Trust?

Trusts have traditionally played a significant role in society by enabling the organization and distribution of resources for the benefit of the general population. Among the several trust types, religious trusts and charity trusts stand out since each has a particular objective and legal framework. These trusts serve as important venues for individuals and organizations to support causes that are important to them and have a positive impact on society.


Religious trusts se­rve the purpose of promoting and advancing re­ligious goals, as their name implies. Typically e­stablished by individuals or groups, these trusts aim to uphold and foste­r specific religious belie­fs, practices, institutions, and associated activities. The­ primary objective of a religious trust is to e­nsure the survival, growth, and dissemination of te­achings and traditions integral to a particular religion. Under the­ jurisdiction of religious trusts are places like­ churches, schools, and other structures utilize­d for religious purposes. The asse­ts and income managed by these­ trusts are primarily allocated towards conducting religious rituals, organizing ce­lebrations, facilitating educational programs, fostering the­ well-being of the re­ligious community at large while also maintaining and enhancing appropriate­ infrastructure.


Charitable trusts se­rve a vital role in supporting vulnerable­ and underprivileged groups while­ tackling important social issues. Driven by the spirit of altruism, the­se trusts strive to promote social justice­, environmental conservation, e­ducation improvement, poverty re­duction, and healthcare initiatives. The­ir broad purpose allows them to fund various bene­ficial endeavors that contribute to socie­ty as a whole. They provide financial assistance­, grants, scholarships, and resources to academic institutions, charitable­ organizations, community betterment proje­cts, and other initiatives aligned with the­ir philanthropic goals.


Both religious trusts (charitable and religious trusts act 1920) and charity trusts have­ distinct motivations for making a positive impact on society. Howeve­r, their primary goals and legal criteria diffe­r significantly. Religious trusts prioritize the mainte­nance and growth of a specific religion, while­ charity trusts extend support to various humanitarian causes and e­ndeavors. Religious trusts operate­ according to religious rules, regulations, rite­s, customs, and practices associated with their re­spective faiths. On the othe­r hand, charitable trusts abide by the re­levant charity laws and regulations of the nation in which the­y were establishe­d, providing them with a legal framework for the­ir operations.


Religious trusts and charitable trusts, which perform a variety of functions in society, have as their primary goals the preservation and growth of religion and greater societal welfare. Charity trusts focus on a variety of social issues, whereas religious trusts cater to the specific needs and expectations of a particular faith. People and organizations intending to establish or donate to such institutions must understand the differences between these two types of trusts in order to make informed judgments about their charitable initiatives and properly deploy their resources for the greater good.


What is Trust?


A trust, like a person or company, is a legal entity having independent and distinct rights. A trustor grants another person, the trustee, the authority to hold title to and administer property or assets for the benefit of a third party, the beneficiary, under a trust.

Trusts can be created to offer legal protection for the trustor’s assets and ensure that they are dispersed in accordance with their preferences. Trusts can also save time, decrease paperwork, and, in some cases, cut inheritance or estate taxes.

Trusts can also be utilised to create a closed-end fund in the form of a public limited corporation. Learn more about trusts and how they are used to protect beneficiaries’ assets.

A “Trust” is an obligation originating from a confidence reposed in and acknowledged by the owner, or declared and accepted by him, for the benefit of another, or of another and the owner.

A trust is a handy way for a small group of people to hold property on behalf of other people, who might be a big or fluctuating group, or even people who have not yet been born. The trustees own the property once it has been vested in them, but they are required by law to exercise their ownership solely for the benefit of the beneficiaries. It indicates that the trustee or trustees have legal ownership, but the beneficiaries have de facto ownership.

  • The individual who reposes or asserts trust is referred to as “the Author of the trust.”  
  • Trustee: The “Trustee” is the person who accepts the trust.
  • Beneficiaries: The individual for whose benefit the trust is accepted is referred to as the “Beneficiaries.”
  • Trust Property: “Trust Property” or “Trust Money” is the subject of trust.
  • The “Instrument of Trust” is the instrument, if any, via which the trust is stated.
  • A trust is a fiduciary relssociated with the idle affluent, they are incredibly adaptable vehicles that may be utilised to achieve a variety of aims.
  • Each trust is classified into six types: alive or testamentary, financed or unfunded, revocable or irrevocable.ationship in which one person, known as the trustor, grants another, known as the trustee, the authority to hold title to property or assets for the benefit of a third party.
  • While trusts are commonly associated with the idle affluent, they are incredibly adaptable vehicles that may be utilized to achieve a variety of aims.
  • Each trust is classified into six types: alive or testamentary, financed or unfunded, revocable or irrevocable.


What is Religious Trust?

Religious trusts are organizations that were established in India to promote and protect religious institutions. They are frequently created as non-profit organizations that are tax-exempt and donations are tax-deductible. Religious trusts are often established by religious organizations or societies and are managed by a board of trustees.


In India, creating a trust is mostly done to manage both personal and religious property and to provide charity services, particularly to economically disadvantaged groups of the population. Its legislative framework in India outlines some particular actions, such as giving food, education, medical assistance, and other similar amenities to the people who are mostly living in slum areas or leading disadvantaged lives. Additionally, it works only for charity causes to advance any other work of general public use as well as the preservation of monuments and the environment.


A trust’s financial activities are not taxed in any way. Additionally, the share or income gift recipient is exempt from paying taxes. The benevolent and religious trust Act was therefore established in 1920 to regulate such trusts and their activities.


In order to efficiently regulate and supervise charity and religious organisations, the charity and Religious Trusts Act was created in 1920. The primary objectives of the Act were to gather information on the religious and charitable institutions created for the benefit of the public and to make it simpler for the trustees to ask the courts for orders pertaining to those institutions. The Act also suggests adding explicit provisions to pay for the trustees’ legal defence expenses.

Individuals associated with charitable or religious organisations created for the benefit of the public must submit a petition to the court in order to obtain an injunction addressing any of the following matters:

  1. A court order requiring the trustee to turn over the necessary documents, including details on the trust’s nature, purpose, terms of value, administration, subject matter, and revenue, will be given to the trustee.
  2. The instruction must also deal with the audit and close examination of the accounts for a period longer than three years.

The petitioner’s link to the trust and the circumstances of the audit for which he is seeking advice must be mentioned. The petition must be in written and bear the sign of the petitioner. The petitioner is required to confirm the petition in conformity with the Civil Procedure Code. The judge must hear testimony and conduct the required investigations when a petition is submitted before the court in order to establish if the trust is subject to the current Act’s jurisdiction and whether the petitioner is linked to the trust. 

If the court is pleased with the issues and sets a date for the hearing, the trustee and any other parties connected to the trust will be sent a copy of the notice along with the hearing date. The court will conduct the procedures, hear from the petitioner and the trustee, and do any further research it deems necessary. As required by the court, the trustee will also have the opportunity to submit a written statement under the Criminal Procedure Code.

The court must impose a stay of the proceedings when the trustee files a lawsuit asserting that the trust does not exist and that the Act does not apply to the trust that is the subject of the petition. When the relevant actions have been performed, the Court must issue the required orders or dismiss the petition. Any title issues between the petitioner and anybody else who alleges a title that is adverse to the trust are not matters for the Court to decide. A lawsuit must be brought in accordance with the Civil Procedure Code for a breach of trust, which is defined as failing to follow the court’s directives.

The Act permits the trustee to submit a petition asking the Court for guidance or instructions on how to efficiently run and supervise the trust. The court is not compelled to provide counsel, though, if it decides that the issue cannot be resolved in a swift manner. A court petition may only be submitted under the circumstances outlined by the Act.

What is Charitable Trust?


A charitable trust is a legal arrangement where individuals can allocate assets to support charitable causes while potentially receiving tax benefits and providing for their own financial needs and those of their beneficiaries.


A charitable trust is essentially a way to set up your assets to benefit you, your beneficiaries and a charity — all at the same time. A charitable trust could offer many financial advantages for philanthropically minded individuals with nonessential assets, such as stocks or real estate.

Explore the basics and benefits of charitable trusts and find out if one is right for your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Charitable trusts are divided into two types: charitable lead trusts and charitable remainder trusts, which have different structures and purposes.
  • Charitable lead trusts distribute a portion of proceeds to a charity before giving the remaining principal to beneficiaries, while charitable remainder trusts provide income to the creator before donating the remaining assets to a chosen charity.
  • Charitable trusts offer tax incentives, such as charitable donation tax deductions and reductions in estate taxes, while allowing individuals to continue supporting charitable causes and create an income stream for themselves and their beneficiaries.

Understanding Charitable Trusts

There are two primary types of charitable trusts: charitable lead trusts and charitable remainder trusts. These trust types mirror each other but serve different needs. One thing they have in common is that the chosen charity or charities must qualify with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to receive charitable deductions according to the type of trust and terms you select.

  • Charitable lead trust: This trust type first distributes a portion of its proceeds to a charity, for which you’ll receive a charitable donation tax deduction equal to those payments. The remainder of the principal is then distributed to your beneficiaries.
  • Charitable remainder trust: With this trust type, you choose to receive an income from the distribution of the non-income-producing assets you placed into the trust first. You’ll also receive a charitable donation tax deduction based on the present value of the remainder of the assets earmarked for the charity. At the end of the term or upon your death, your chosen charity receives the rest of the assets.

Typically, once you move your assets into a charitable trust, it sells the assets and distributes them according to the trust type and the terms you select.

Once created, a trust is irrevocable, even if you were to suffer a personal or business financial loss.

These trusts have many moving parts, and it can help to speak with a financial representative to learn more about how a trust could fit into your financial plan.

Benefits of Giving

When you give to charity, you can make an impact on the world around you — and a charitable trust could help you continue to give long after you are gone. It’s also one way to put your plans for giving to good work.

Setting up a charitable trust can have many tax incentives and financial benefits for those who want to set aside any high-value assets they don’t need to support themselves in retirement. By moving these assets into a charitable trust, you can avoid paying capital gains on real estate or stocks when they’re sold at a higher present value.

Both types of trusts effectively reduce your estate through charitable donation, which helps reduce estate taxes. They also eliminate probate for your beneficiaries. At the same time, a charitable trust can create an income stream for you and an inheritance for your beneficiaries while you’re still alive using the non-income-producing assets you already own. For both types of trusts, you earn the charitable tax deduction, according to current IRS rules, while leaving a portion of these assets to a charity or several charities.

Charitable Trust Tactics

Within each of the different types of charitable trusts, there are many options to consider and strategies for maximizing their benefits.

Here are two common strategies:

  • Set up a donor-advised fund: You don’t have to choose your charity beneficiary when you create your charitable trust. Instead, you can create a donor-advised fund to direct payments from a charitable lead trust or charitable remainder trust to whatever charity (or charities) you eventually select. This gives you the flexibility to change your mind about a charity or add a new charity.
  • Replace assets for beneficiaries: You have choices for the income a charitable remainder trust creates for you from the sale of your non-income-producing assets. Those looking to leave an inheritance for their beneficiaries, for example, can buy a life insurance policy and use the income produced by the charitable remainder trust to pay the policy premiums while still using the remainder to fund charitable intentions.


Difference Between Charitable & Religious Trust?


Religious and charity trusts are distinct legal entities with various social purposes. Despite the fact that both types of trusts were established with the benefit of the public in mind, they have different objectives and guiding principles. The following are the primary differences between charity trusts and religious trusts:

You may better comprehend the difference between charitable trust and religious trust by keeping in mind the following points:

  1. Goals: Supporting religious organisations and offering religious services and programmes is the main goal of religious trusts. On the other hand, charity trusts have a larger emphasis and are created to promote a wide range of philanthropic purposes, including, among others, environmental protection, healthcare, and education.
  2. Fundraising: To sustain its activities and programmes, religious trusts often rely on donations from members of the religious community. On the other hand, charitable trusts get funding from a larger range of sources, such as grants from public and private foundations as well as contributions from people, groups, and businesses.
  3. Management Structure: A board of trustees or directors who belong to the religious community often oversees religious trusts. 
  4. Regulation: The Indian Trusts Act of 1882 and any other applicable laws and regulations governing religious organisations must be complied with by religious trusts. The Indian Trusts Act of 1882[1] and the Income Tax (IT) Act of 1961, among other pertinent laws and regulations, include provisions that apply to charitable trusts.
  5. Goal: The funding of religious institutions and the provision of religious activities and programmes are the goals of religious trusts. Supporting a variety of charity organisations and endeavours is the goal of charitable trusts.
  6. Asset Management: Religious trusts are in charge of overseeing the religious institution’s property, including its buildings, lands, and other assets. The assets of the Trust are managed by charitable trusts and utilised to further the philanthropic purpose for which they were established.
  7. Use of Funds: Religious trusts put the money they raise to good use by paying for upkeep on buildings, the delivery of religious services and programmes, and other costs associated with running a religious institution. philanthropic trusts use the cash received to assist the philanthropic cause being supported, which may include supporting programmes and activities, giving money to other organisations pursuing the same goal, and paying administrative costs.
  8. Financial Reporting: Both charity and religious trusts must keep accurate financial records and make this information publicly available. 
  9. Trustee Requirements: Religious trusts frequently demand that trustees belong to a certain religion. Trustees of charity trusts are frequently required to have knowledge of and experience with the charitable cause being sponsored.
  10. Decision-Making Authority: In both charity and religious trusts, it is up to the board of directors or trustees to decide how the religious organization will be run and managed. 
  11. Auditing: In order to make sure that the donations made are put to their intended use, both religious and charitable trusts are required to submit to audits. 

80g exemption for religious trust only applies to charitable trusts or institutions. It does not apply to religious trusts or organisations, whereas the exemption plan under Section 12A applies to both charitable and religious trusts. Section 80G of the Income Tax Act of 1961 allows for a deduction when calculating the donor’s total income.


Religious trust under income tax act: Tax Benefits and Provisions


A trust must devote at least 85% of its revenue to religious or charitable causes in India in order to be exempt from taxation. The following are included in the concept of charitable purpose as allowed by tax laws:

  • Relief of the poor
  • Education
  • Yoga
  • Medical relief
  • Preservation of environment (monuments or places or objects of artistic or historic interest

Promotion of any other item of wide public usefulness. However, irrespective of the nature of use or application, or retention of the income from such activity, any activity in the nature of trade, commerce, or business, or any activity of rendering any service in relation to any trade, commerce, or business, for a cess or fee or any other consideration is not considered to be for charitable purposes.

  • Such trade/commerce/business activity is carried out in the course of carrying out such progress of any other object of wide public usefulness and
  • The aggregate receipts from such activity/activities throughout the fiscal year do not exceed 20% of the trust or institution’s overall receipts during that fiscal year.

Furthermore, income used for the acquisition of capital assets, repayment of a loan used for the purchase of capital assets, revenue expenditure, and donations to trusts established under Sections 12AA and 10(23C) must be recognised as used for charitable purposes and therefore free from tax.

The expression religious purpose’ is not defined in the Act. Religious aims are inextricably linked to religion and are a matter of faith for people or groups. The advancement, support, or dissemination of religion and its doctrines is a religious objective. The revenue of a religious trust or institution is exempt, even if it is for the benefit of a certain religious community or caste.

The Section 11 exemption is exclusively applicable to public religious trusts and not to private religious trusts.




The primary distinction between religious trust and charity trust is the intention to promote a certain cause and belief. Religious trusts exist primarily to finance and sustain religious organisations such as temples, mosques, and churches, whereas charity trusts exist to promote charitable purposes and activities such as education, healthcare, poverty alleviation, and environmental preservation, among others.

Another distinction is the trusts’ management and monitoring. A board of directors or trustees oversees religious trusts, whereas a board of directors or trustees manages charitable trusts. Both forms of trusts’ financial administration and use are subject to severe rules and regulations to guarantee that monies are utilised for their intended purpose.

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