Lobby groups and charities

May 6th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

NZ says it will be deregistered as a because of its views on gay marriage.

National director of Family First Bob McCoskrie said the group has received notification the Charities Commission intends to deregister the organisation.

He said the decision was highly politicised and showed groups that think differently to the politically correct view will be targeted.

I was actually surprised that either Family First or the were registered charities. Likewise I was surprised that Greenpeace was also (and they are no more – for now).

This is nothing to do with my degree of agreement with any of those groups. All of them have some views I agree with and disagree with.

But if you run campaigns calling on people to vote a certain way, then I think you cross the line from being a charity to a lobby group.

I’m all for lobby groups. We need more of them. And people should donate to the ones they agree with. But they should not get a tax rebate for doing so.

Now there are some groups that do some stuff that is charitable and some stuff that is lobbying. One solution is to structurally separate the two. For example the SST does some amazing support networks for victims of serious crimes such as murders. Donations to support that work should be tax deductible. But donations to fund their lobbying on law and order issues should not be.

The same goes for . Donations for their actual conservation projects should be tax deductible. But donations for their political advocacy in favour of certain political parties should not be. Under their current structure I think should not be registered either.

That is not to say no charity should be unable to express views on political issues. But when almost everything you do is around political issues (as was the National Council of Women), then I’d say you are not charitable.

 

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50 Responses to “Lobby groups and charities”

  1. Reg (544 comments) says:

    I notice both the NZ AIDS Foundation and the INA (Maori, Indigenous and South Pacific) HIV/AIDS Foundation are registered as charities with the NZ Charities Commission. Presumably they never advocate or lobby on the part of the gay community?

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  2. Redbaiter (6,463 comments) says:

    “Under their current structure I think Forest & Bird should not be registered either.”

    But it has not been has it?

    But Family First has been.

    Homosexual fascists and their sympathizers are infiltrating our democracy to advance their political cause.

    Hysteria?

    Maybe.

    Maybe not.

    It has happened before.

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  3. sparky (235 comments) says:

    Surely a Charity, must be entitled to have an opinion, without being deregistered.

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  4. Manolo (12,607 comments) says:

    The same strict rules should be applied to the myriad of organisations proselytising left-wing ideology or the Stone Agers filling their pockets. Oh, wait.

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  5. krazykiwi (9,188 comments) says:

    I think we’ll find that interpretation of charitable status will be open & flexible in support of progressive/liberal causes, and rigid in blocking conservative causes.

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  6. scrubone (2,971 comments) says:

    I was frankly a little surprised that FF got charitable status in the first place, so I’m not so fussed that they lost it.

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  7. Pete George (21,789 comments) says:

    This is all party of a homosexual conspiracy. Both the Clark and Key Govermnents are complicit. They are shutting down Christian dissent through the Charities Commission. It was warned about before the Marriage Bill was passed. It is happening now.

    Really. Apparently. Anti-Christian conspiracy.

    Another example:

    I think we’ll find that interpretation of charitable status will be open & flexible in support of progressive/liberal causes, and rigid in blocking conservative causes.

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  8. Pete George (21,789 comments) says:

    Paranoid nutcases do more to damage Christianity than anything. Destroying themselves from within while blaming everything but themselves.

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  9. RightNow (6,334 comments) says:

    “Surely a Charity, must be entitled to have an opinion, without being deregistered.”

    They can have an opinion without expressing it publicly as political lobbying.

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  10. kowtow (6,684 comments) says:

    Said this on the other post

    OK Family First out for lobbying ,then what about the Sallies,SPCA and Ngai Tahu.

    I reckon the Commissioners are up to fight some (nudge nudge wink wink) but not all.

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  11. Andrei (2,428 comments) says:

    You Pete George are a prize prat with your anti Christian straw men

    While Bob McCroskie may well be a Christian, Family first does not appeal to Christianity to make its (eminently sensible) case.

    And we have yet to see a Christian make human rights complaints about gay only guest houses in Britain while whining homsexuals have taken guest house proprietors to court for not renting them rooms with double beds and won.

    or shit like this

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  12. sparky (235 comments) says:

    Rightnow,

    They can have an opinion without expressing it publicly as political lobbying.

    So every opinion is classified Political Lobbying! How ridiculous.

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  13. Manolo (12,607 comments) says:

    I await Dunne’s position on this matter to see the shifting of his minion’s opinion. :D

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  14. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    The tax exempt status for charities is a good example of one of those areas that can just devolve into endless litigation and point scoring.

    If Bob McCoskrie is not allowed to tell politicians that we should be afraid of gay people and be allowed to smack our kids and Greenpeace can’t tell politicians not to drill for oil and to build more rail then how come Amnesty International (CC35331) can tell us not to torture people or use the death penalty? How come Destiny Church (CC29039) get a tax break to help build their ‘City of God’ project and charter school ambitions to brainwash a whole new generation South Aucklanders? How come the Morgan Foundation (CC11250) get tax free status so that Gareth can tell us that he doesn’t like cats or the Church of Scientology (CC27252) get a tax break to assist them in spreading their particular strain of wierdness?

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  15. Daigotsu (444 comments) says:

    So wait a minute.

    Should a group be deregistered if ‘some stuff that is charitable and some stuff that is lobbying’ or ‘when almost everything you do is around political issues’?

    DPF you appear to be proposing two different standards in one post.

    You say Forest and Bird should be deregistered, but it’s not clear that almost everything they do is around political issues. The NCOW and Forest and Bird (and for that matter SST and Family First) are not comparable in that respect. As you say almost everything NCOW did was political, but the other three groups, not so much.

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  16. David Farrar (1,808 comments) says:

    I’d allow Amnesty International retain their status – none of the others!

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  17. Pete George (21,789 comments) says:

    As per Manolo’s request, Peter Dunne has clarified a couple of points:

    - The Charities commission was actually abolished last year and its work subsumed into Internal Affairs

    - The commission was not my brain child, but the work of Michael Cullen

    And Ministers have no role in deciding the registration of charities. It is a purely mechanical process carried out by officials.

    And he tweeted another:

    @PeterDunneMP
    Whatever else they may or may not be, Family First were never a charity in the accepted sense of the word.

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  18. ZenTiger (419 comments) says:

    Barnardos lobbied for the smacking law changes, and also gets a big pile of money from the government.
    Family first lobbied against the smacking law changes, and gets no money from the government.

    Guess which one had their charitable status rejected for lobbying?

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  19. JC (838 comments) says:

    A typical NZ charity like Alzheimers, MS, Epilepsy have charitable status and often some Govt funding.. say 10% of costs with the other 90% raised by volunteers . As much as 90% may go on paid fieldworkers, office staff and support for members and the other 10% on volunteer expenses.

    Lobbying to Govt tends to be on a specific subject such as access to or about the costs of drugs from Pharmac and typically is low key.. often an exchange of research findings between the organisation and Pharmac.

    Bear in mind that many MPs and Ministers are also members and Patrons of these organisations and can quietly pass on stuff to the Minister of Health or his ministry.

    I’d describe these exchanges as “genteel” and given that the money given by Govt to the organisation comes attached with a contract requiring the organisation use it “for information and advocacy” there is a certain expectation that some lobbying will occur.

    Where it gets out of hand is when the organisation does street marches and media blitzes.

    JC

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  20. ZenTiger (419 comments) says:

    I don’t object to them losing their Charity status providing the rules are applied consistently. I’m not sure they are at this point.

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  21. berend (1,599 comments) says:

    DPF: But when almost everything you do is around political issues (as was the National Council of Women), then I’d say you are not charitable.

    But whose fault was that? Family First wasn’t set up to combat same-sex marriage, it was the politicians that made that an issue.

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  22. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    @ZenTiger
    You are exactly right… Currently you can use your charity funding for whatever advocacy you want and call it “Education”. It’ll only get looked at if somebody lays a complaint – it’s all based on how high profile you are, hence it’s pretty unfair.

    I’m fairly sure that the Morgan Foundation could get it’s status revoked fairly easily if somebody set their mind to it, Destiny Church look to have used a regionalisation strategy with multiple charities so that if one group gets shut down for lobbying then the others still keep their tax break…

    For all the hand wringing about the “Gay Agenda” and political bias a quick search of http://www.register.charities.govt.nz shows 70 pages (700 organisations) with the keyword ‘Christian’ and nine results for the keyword ‘Gay’ (only 6 of which look like they have a focus on gay people and one (CC24133) that is both Gay and Christian).

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  23. scrubone (2,971 comments) says:

    Good to see the revenue minister pontificating on what is and is not a charity. There’s no way he’ll ever regret saying that. /sarc

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  24. RightNow (6,334 comments) says:

    sparky (144) Says:

    Rightnow,

    They can have an opinion without expressing it publicly as political lobbying.

    So every opinion is classified Political Lobbying! How ridiculous.

    Read it again:

    They can have an opinion without expressing it publicly as political lobbying.

    Groups who have charitable status need to be very careful about how they express themselves publicly.

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  25. Wayne Mapp (54 comments) says:

    It seems to me the correct decision that FF be deregistered. The distinction between an appropriate level of lobbying and what is effectively political activism is well made by JC. Of course not all the lobboying has to be “genteel”, but you can’t have campaigns on who to vote for (as FF did) and still say you are a charity. Actually David has the right solution, which is to divide the organisation between charity work and lobbying work.

    That would also work for Greenpeace and Forest and Bird, although in the latter case I don’t really think they cross the boundary. Forest and Bird lobbying still seems to be pretty focused on conservation as it relates to the preservation of wild places, though I can see that others might have different view. They are on the boundary.

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  26. Redbaiter (6,463 comments) says:

    “They are on the boundary.”

    Yes. I have a different view.

    They are a bunch of statist watermelons working the system.

    But that’s OK, because they system is utterly corrupt.

    We saw that in the way the redefinition of marriage bill was rammed through.

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  27. Scott (1,614 comments) says:

    Well actually wasn’t the essence of the argument you gay marriage advocates all made was that, the sun will risein the morning, it won’t affect you, gay sex is not being made compulsory, it’s just a small change that will affect no one else etc etc? Now what do we find? Well gay sex may not be compulsory but approval of gay marriage certainly is!

    If you don’t agree with it, then the state will be after you. You are suddenly not a charity, even if you are not for profit. No you are a special case and will lose your charitable status. We will punish you for not following the approved government line! Even if it is newly approved, 2 weeks ago in fact. You must conform!

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  28. slijmbal (1,133 comments) says:

    The Charities Commission is quite clear in its communications about what constitutes charitable activities. It’s still quite loose in applying those rules. If your political lobbying is a primary purpose then expect to lose the charitable status and rightly so.

    There are an awful lot of charities who I doubt are truly about charity in the conventional sense for many other reasons. We have charities who raise substantially more funds than they ever expend on public benefit for instance.

    Sanitarium is a business which does not pay company tax as it is effectively owned by a church. etc etc

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  29. Kea (10,451 comments) says:

    Andrei @ 4:05

    Appalling ! & you know I am an atheist.

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  30. Scott (1,614 comments) says:

    And what’s even more sickening is the same liberal gay advocates are philosophically pontificating that it’s okay! Because they shouldn’t be charities after all. Well not family first. No no. But every other group well they can be charities, that’s okay. But not family first.
    Your assurances were all just weasel words. You are all just liars or hopelessly deluded.

    Here’s something you can take to the bank. Persecution will increase, sin always grows and gay marriage advocates will brook no opposition. And the assurances of weasel words liberals are just piffle. Churches will be closed by the state, pastors will go to jail. I hope you gay marriage liberals are satisfied.

    No doubt when these things occur you will be similarly as philosophical as you are on this blatant piece of state persecution. But just remember today they are coming for the Christians. But don’t get in the way of the gay lobby. Because they might just come for you.

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  31. slijmbal (1,133 comments) says:

    F**k me it doesn’t really matter what the subject is – it seems to get reduced to some variation of ‘bum bandits bad – catholic bum bandits good’ or vice verse

    give it up for god’s sake and move on.

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  32. Scott (1,614 comments) says:

    Hey slimbjal, don’t worry about it. As that noted statesman Maurice Williamson has promised, the sun will still rise in the morning. But just not on family first. Not if the Department of Internal Affairs can help it. They have to be put out of business. They don’t approve of gay marriage. We can’t have the sun rising on them. Only those organisations with approved views shall see the sun rise. So says the government!

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  33. Pete George (21,789 comments) says:

    Hey Scott, you are repeating unsubstantiated nonsense.

    How Internal Affairs decide on what qualifies an organisation as a charity or not has absolutely nothing to do with MPs (apart from the fact they originally passed legislation), nor with marriage, nor with homosexuality.

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  34. Scott (1,614 comments) says:

    Hi Pete, what would you know? Or care for that matter? It’s absolutely clear that the state isremoving the ccharitable status of family first following the passage of the gay marriage bill. They were supposed to report back in January but waited till the gay bill became law. So the facts are the facts. The DIA has decided that family first support of traditional marriage is not in the public interest and have removed their charitable status.

    So the facts are the facts. But don’t worry Pete. You hate God and hate the church. So you don’t care. Job done. Gay marriage passed, stick it to the church. No need for any weasel words or smooth assurances. You won. Family first can go out of business, job done as far as you’re concerned.

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  35. the conservative (57 comments) says:

    Andrei, that was an excellent video. It is a classic example of Orwell’s speech police, but it’s no longer fiction.

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  36. slijmbal (1,133 comments) says:

    @Scott

    Family First look, walk , smell and sound like a duck that is not a charity. You prove my point.

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  37. graham (2,211 comments) says:

    The Charities Commission may not been invented by Peter Dunne, but as Minister of Revenue for the past – how many years? – surely he is responsible for it’s operation, and has been responsible for many of the changes that have gone on?

    And whilst it is strictly speaking quite correct to state that the Charities Commission was abolished, as Peter Dunne points out its work is now done by Internal Affairs, and it is called Charities Services. Essentially it’s the same organisation, just under a different umbrella. Even it’s current website has several references to the Charities Commission.

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  38. slijmbal (1,133 comments) says:

    Dunne is not responsible for charities – it has nothing to do with revenue

    There is a community and voluntary sector minister – Jo Goodhew I think.

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  39. Pete George (21,789 comments) says:

    Yes, Minister responsible Jo Goodhew, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector

    Not that that makes any difference, the Minister has nothing to do with deciding who meets the criteria for being a charity and who doesn’t.

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  40. Pete George (21,789 comments) says:

    Hey Scott, your facts don’t stack up.

    It’s absolutely clear that the state isremoving the ccharitable status of family first following the passage of the gay marriage bill.

    The only fact is the timing, and that means nothing. If the decision was announced before the Marriage Bill passed there would have been grizzling conjured up about that timing too.

    So the facts are the facts. But don’t worry Pete. You hate God and hate the church.

    More made up nonsense, absent any facts.

    Hey Scott, isn’t there something in Christianity that frowns on making up false accusations?

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  41. Colville (1,765 comments) says:

    Churches should pay tax too.

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  42. Scott (1,614 comments) says:

    For the actual facts do not look to Pete George. The link is here-
    http://www.radiolive.co.nz/Family-First-boss-defends-charity-status/tabid/506/articleID/35161/Default.aspx

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  43. Harriet (4,001 comments) says:

    Doctors in NZ are suggesting to mothers that they abort mongoloids ect. DPF has written up on that in the past.

    So now their charities can’t be tax free if they speak out against that? How cruel!

    Since when was it a crime to be a mongol and be executed for being so?

    The totalatarians are making huge progress in NZ replacing the middle ground between law and lawlessness with more laws, regulations, and legal codes .

    That middle ground was once the preserve of liberty, Christian values, freedom, and civility which was taught in the home.

    Now the police and the threat of legal action rule it – just like the UK and Canada!

    Welcome to the jackboot stomping on your head! :cool:

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  44. Harriet (4,001 comments) says:

    Oh well.

    So we can’t donate money to charities to state our case for us?

    Fine – we’ll just pay the likes of Mark Steyn to come here and speak for us on the whole topic! :cool:

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  45. slightlyrighty (2,448 comments) says:

    The Aids foundation provides support and assistance to those suffering from HIV/AIDS and their families. It provides education and information on preventing new infections and managing existing ones. It provides free HIV tests.

    These are all charitable acts. The foundation exists to provide charitable aid to a distinctive group, that being those infected with HIV, by whatever misfortune, be it hetero or homosexual contact, drug use or medical misadventure.

    Family First have a right to exist, and to express views. I do agree with some of their views, I disagree with others. What I do not see on the part of Family First is an actual act of charity. Which poor, downtrodden or afflicted group have they set out to help?

    This is what Family First say they do:

    Family First will:

    be a voice for the family in the media speaking up about issues relating to families that are in the public domain

    promote and advance research and policy supporting marriage and family as foundational to a strong and enduring society

    participate in social analysis and debate surrounding issues relating to and affecting the family being promoted by academics, policy makers, social service organisations and media, and to network with other like-minded groups and academics

    produce and publish relevant and stimulating material in newspapers, magazines, and other media relating to issues affecting families

    speak from a family friendly perspective with an emphasis on the Judeo-Christian values which have benefited New Zealand for generations.

    ================================

    This is not the description of a charity as I understand it. This is a lobby group. Taking advantage of a so called charitable status is fundamentally dishonest.

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  46. Viking2 (10,687 comments) says:

    The sooner the Govt. nobble many of these so called charities the better.
    A few better interpretations by the the Charities Services and low and behold Mrs IRD will be calling on them for failing to pay tax.
    Yeh.

    For your reference.
    We should define charity.

    Charity may refer to:
    Contents

    1 Concepts and practices
    2 Organizations
    3 Places
    4 Entertainment
    5 Other

    Concepts and practices

    Charity (practice), the practice of benevolent giving and caring
    Charity (virtue), the Christian theological concept of unlimited love and kindness

    Principle of charity in philosophy and rhetoric
    Tzedakah, a Hebrew concept, literally meaning righteousness (Genesis 18:19) but commonly used to signify charity, and giving to worthy causes or people in need
    Zakah and Sadaqah, the Islamic concepts of mandatory and voluntary alms-giving, often translated as “charity”
    Altruism
    Alms

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charity
    Etymology

    From Old French charité (French: charité), from Latin caritas.
    Noun

    charity (countable and uncountable; plural charities)

    (archaic) Christian love; representing God’s love of man, man’s love of God, or man’s love of his fellow-men.
    In general, an attitude of kindness and understanding towards others, now especially suggesting generosity.

    Judge thyself with the judgment of sincerity, and thou will judge others with the judgment of charity. — John Mitchell Mason

    (uncountable) Benevolence to others less fortunate than ourselves; the providing of goods or money to those in need.
    (countable) The goods or money given to those in need.
    (countable) An organization, the objective of which is to carry out a charitable purpose.

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/charity

    So from two sources charity is essentially about giving to those in need.

    Always good to go back to first principles. i.e. the ones before the lawyers and accountants and politicians got at the definitions.
    Eh.

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  47. Jack5 (4,208 comments) says:

    Why not end the tax-free status of charities?

    Separate out donations received from dividends on businesses charities own. Donations would not be classed as normal revenue but as gifts held for onpassing. For the givers’ protection they would have to go through charities’ trust accounts. Individuals and companies , including subsidiaries of charities, would not be allowed to offset charitable donations against tax; they would only make these from tax-paid profit or from assets being distributed.

    The fact that Ngai Tahu and the Seventh Day Adventist church can operate tax free large businesses in competition with other businesses is unfair. The argument that they benefit their communities is flawed. Don’t the shareholders of a large company make up a community, or the members of a Kiwisaver fund?

    After losing tax-free status, Ngai Tahu and the Seventh Day Adventists could pass on tax-paid profit from their businesses to their trusts for distribution. Their companies would have paid tax like everyone else. Tax would be collecte along the line. There would be no preference based on ethnicity or religion.

    Or, payouts to Ngai Tahu tribe members and to Seventh Day Adventist members could be put in the same position as dividends to shareholders in all companies. Tax-credits would come attached to dividends from tax-paying companies. If Ngai Tahu and the church then gave shares in themselves to their members, the tax credits could be passed on for offset against individual tax, just as happens with shareholders in public companies..

    Yes, any fat cats at the top would benefit most from the credits. The credits, as with public companies, are not some sort of tax handout, however. They merely stop double taxation – at the company and shareholder level. End of tax-free status and use of tax credits on dividends would mean Ngai Tahu and the Seventh Day Adventist ventures paid tax along the line, whereas now they don’t.

    Meanwhile, everyone needs to be on guard that the state doesn’t try to make charities status confidential, by taking down the Charities Commission web site.

    My understanding is that the IRD has always had its own list of charities that qualify for tax exemption. Perhaps the shut down of the Charities Commission, which was set up to help solve the problem of which charities should pay taxes, has just been thrown back to the IRD.

    Can any Kiwiblog follower throw light on the IRD role with charities?

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  48. peterwn (2,932 comments) says:

    Viking2 – IRD is unlikely to be chasing dubious charities for non-payment of tax, and it it did, it would be because of grossly abusive behaviour by the ‘charity’, and there is no question of Greenpeace, Families First, etc having indulged in such abusive behaviour (the only abusive ‘charity’ I am aware of is one set up in conjunction with the Trinity/ Ben Nevis forestry tax rort). Non profit organisations which are not charities need not pay tax on their surpluses as long as it is not distributed for personal benefit of members or others (reasonable staff renumeration is OK). They only need to pay tax on investment income if it exceeds a certain value, but this does not affect most clubs, etc.

    The main advantage of charitable status is donors may claim a 33% tax rebate on donations which is a significant motivation for donors to open their wallets. Since a restrictive cap was lifted on this several years ago (the only restriction now is you cannot claim a rebate on any amount exceeding your taxable income) the government is most concerned that it does not benefit organisations involved in significant non-charitable purposes.

    The sights will be on ‘Forest & Bird’ in due course and this is potentially politically explosive because of the broad range of its membership. Will be interesting to see what happens here.

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  49. slijmbal (1,133 comments) says:

    “Can any Kiwiblog follower throw light on the IRD role with charities?”

    I’m on the board of a charity. There is no real role of IRD with charities outside of GST and tax returns. The Charities Commission in theory supervises but doesn’t really and has had a name change but is the same beasty and the policing is really via he DIA who sit above the commission. They always get dragged in when there are issues. The Charities Commission has been quite ineffectual as they spent the most of their time actually working out who were the charities for quite some time i.e. registration before thinking about what was a charity.

    @Jack5

    Charities predominantly receive money from donations, charitable trusts and the pokies. Few charities own businesses.

    @peterwn – I think Forest & Bird might actually do enough real charitable acts as opposed to politicing to retain the charitable status.

    There are no rules on how much a charity has to use of its raised funds on its charitable purposes.

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  50. Shazzadude (465 comments) says:

    I think charity status is fine for the SST on the basis that a large part of their work is supporting victims and families of victims.

    I don’t see proof of any charity from Family First however.

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