On the one hand the Greens 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 charity would be allowing any organisation to be a charity. Would we accept Business NZ being a registered charity?
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?