Greens support lobby groups being charities

November 18th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

On the one hand the rail against lobbyists, yet on the other hand they say they should be able to be tax free charities. I guess the difference is whether or not they agree with them.

Green MP Denise Roche blogs::

Community organisations already spend much of their time advocating. They shouldn’t be excluded from getting charitable status (and tax exemption) because of this. Organisations of long standing repute including the National Council of Women have been denied charitable status on the basis that advocacy is their primary purpose. Advocacy  is not currently deemed a ‘charitable purpose’ under the Act, and therefore they are denied  tax exemption for donations.

And this is how it should be. Lobby groups should not be escaping tax. The National Council of Women is one of the most prolific lobby groups in New Zealand. It puts in a submission on almost every single bill before Parliament. Now good on them for being politically active, but allowing them to be a registered would be allowing any organisation to be a . Would we accept Business NZ being a registered ?

On the back of the government’s announcement I have drafted a simple Private Member’s Bill to write advocacy into the definition of charitable purpose in the Charities Act as an ancillary purpose. I’ve been holding off for ages because I kept hearing that there would be a review and this would be the main focus of it.

That will make it open slater for every political lobby group in New Zealand to gain charitable tax status.

Personally I think the guidelines should be even tighter. As a secular country I think churches should lose their general tax free status. If they have subsidiaries that do charitable work (such as homeless shelters) then that should be charitable. But why should donations to Scientology be tax deductible?

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24 Responses to “Greens support lobby groups being charities”

  1. cauld (47 comments) says:

    Bravo. Would happily get in behind a campaign to remove the religion as a charitable purpose clause.

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  2. Michael (909 comments) says:

    Among the new “Charities” created by this:

    Bankers Association
    Insurance Council
    Sensible Sentencing Trust
    Straterra (Oil and Gas lobby group)

    and so on – tax deductions for banks, insurance and oil companies!

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  3. Griff (7,694 comments) says:

    It would be interesting to see the bill if one ever happens.
    How would they manage to define only those they support?
    As to religion why should the taxpayer subsidise the building of places of worship or the proliferation of wacky religions?

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  4. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    We need to remove “charitable status” entirely.

    Why should one business not have to pay tax because part of what it does is considered “charity”?

    Everyone’s definition of charity is different. I don’t think building a church is charity – some of those places make millions for the leader. I don’t think a university is a charity. A breakfast cereal company definitely isn’t a charity. And even if it’s a charity, why the special exception? Why should homeless shelters not have to pay tax?!

    If our legitimate charities had to pay a bit of tax like everyone else, they wouldn’t be destroyed – and if they were, they obviously weren’t being very well run. Whenever you build exceptions to a rule you create corruption. Simplify it all by getting charities to pay tax like everyone else has to.

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  5. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    We should also remove the ridiculous provision that allows a tax rebate for charitable donations.

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  6. orewa1 (410 comments) says:

    Yes – dump the charitable provision for churches and their (sometimes overtly) commercial subsidiaries.

    A classic anomoly for decades has been the Sanitarium company that makes Marmite. Sanatarium is exempt from paying company tax because it is owned by the Seventh Day Adventists. Tell me – why should taxpayers subsidise the manufacture of Marmite, but not Vegemite which is a normal commercial model?

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  7. dog_eat_dog (780 comments) says:

    Open slater you say?

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  8. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Ah yes, the ‘paid for my opinion’ blog.

    Charitable status for that fellow would be a true dead rat!

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  9. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Are tithes to the scam churches tax-deductible?

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  10. Dirty Rat (383 comments) says:

    Scientology has not qualified for Charitable Status and was specifically excluded a few years ago.

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  11. wat dabney (3,756 comments) says:

    Griff,

    As to religion why should the taxpayer subsidise the building of places of worship or the proliferation of wacky religions?

    A tax-break is not a subsidy.

    mm,

    We should also remove the ridiculous provision that allows a tax rebate for charitable donations.

    Why is it ridiculous? You’re saying that if I give a starving African some food he has to share it with the NZ government.

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  12. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Of course we’re not allowed to mention the iwi elitists. Many of their businesses are charities paying no tax.

    Griff they will find a way to filter their supporters. Perhaps looking for calluses from hand wringing?

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  13. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    The tax rebate is just a government subsidy of private decision to contribute to charitable causes. If you want to waste money on a hopeless cause, why shouldn’t you bear the whole cost of that?

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  14. Colville (2,268 comments) says:

    A homeless shelter would only need to pay tax if it made a profit. so $1000 donations and $1000 spent no tax.

    What the gweens want to be able to do is take money donated to one cause and transfer it to another without audit.
    Any “re donantion” of funds would not be a expence so wouild have to be gifted out of tax paid funds.

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  15. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    Of course, the Gweens didn’t mention that one of the main reasons for pushing this meme is to try and achieve charity status for the eco terrorist, political party in disguise: Greenpeace.

    And whilst the Gweenpeace application for charity status was initially refused, the decision was appealed via the Courts and has now referred back for a second consideration – a complete WOFTAM.

    But the Gweens forgot to mention this in their press release…. Quelle surprise.

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  16. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Maybe we should abolish charity status altogether – that’d be simpler.

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  17. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    Wat dabney:

    Why is it ridiculous? You’re saying that if I give a starving African some food he has to share it with the NZ government.

    No. But if you earn money, you should pay income tax on that money. If you buy food, you pay GST on that food.

    That starving African doesn’t have to pay any tax at all. But you can’t decide “I’d prefer my tax money to go to that starving African rather than the government”.

    So after you’ve paid tax, you’re free to spend money however you want. But spending it in a certain way shouldn’t mean you get tax back.

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  18. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Dead right tristanb. Most charities are outright scams, or at least amazingly ineffective in delivering any part of their donations to the cause de jeur, so why should they have this automatic boost from the rest of us who are careful about choosing the recipients of our donations.

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  19. OneTrack (3,092 comments) says:

    Elaycee 10:57 – That is the only reason they are doing it.

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  20. Brian Marshall (202 comments) says:

    Elaycee, I belive the court found back in favour of Greenpeace. Quite how is a complete mystery to me as it’s clear that it’s aims are not ever been considered to be ‘charitable’ before.
    As there is a new body that determines the charitable status and to be clear, the judge has not said that they should be reinstated, only able to reapply.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/7960488/Greenpeace-allowed-to-reapply-as-charity

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  21. wat dabney (3,756 comments) says:

    That starving African doesn’t have to pay any tax at all.

    Clearly he does if the food is being paid for after tax.

    It’s a matter of tax incidence.

    What would have been three sacks of donated rice is now only two; with the third being sent to Wellington for no other reason other than the fact that they control the army and police and are in a position to demand a cut of the life-saving food and medicines being sent to the Third World.

    If it weren’t for PAYE this is exactly what you’d see: the government showing up at the docks like a Somali warlord and loading a third of the donated necessities onto the back of their pick-ups and driving off with it to distribute amongst its supporters; who then sell it in order to buy their 50″ plasma TVs and so forth.

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  22. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    With some genuine exceptions most charities are,basically scams these days with most of their money coming from government or local body grants, and their raison d’être is usually to keep their founders in well paid jobs.

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  23. wat dabney (3,756 comments) says:

    (cough)Oxfam(cough)

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  24. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    @wat
    If I can afford two bags of rice after tax, why should I be able to get three if I’m donating it, but only 2 if I want to eat it myself?

    Wellington shouldn’t care about what you use your money for – they just want 1/3rd of what you earn. Pay for a lap dance, build an ark for the imminent great flood, or stop a child starving to death – it’s your business.

    By having a tax-free charitable status, it turns the government into a moral judge of what is and isn’t a charity. Scientology no, but Mormonism yes. Greenpeace no, Forest and Bird yes.

    The last thing we need is the government deciding who gets an automatic 50% boost to their profits by exempting them from tax. It’s just an added complexity, and an opportunity for quite a few unscrupulous people to make a buck.

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