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Charities Bill a long time coming

Media Statement
For immediate release
Wednesday 30 March 2004

Charities Bill a long time coming

Gordon Copeland, United Future spokesperson for the charitable and voluntary sector is delighted that the Charities Bill has, at long last, surfaced in Parliament.

“Believe it or not, this is the culmination of a journey which began back in December 1987 when, as part of his flat tax proposal, Roger Douglas announced that charities would become taxpayers.

“The word “charity” is an old-fashioned word for “love” especially that directed to one’s fellow human kind. Effectively therefore Roger Douglas’s announcement amounted to a tax gatherer’s paradise in deciding that, from henceforth, love would be subject to tax!

“Charities have walked a long road of recovery since then. Eventually faced with unabated howls of protest from charities, churches and sporting clubs up and down the country, the Lange-led government proposed a break for a “cup of tea” and passed the buck concerning charities and tax to the Spencer Russell working party in 1989. It proposed a Commission for charities but it did not proceed when New Zealand electors kicked that government into touch in 1990.

“Having avoided that tax, in the years and months since, huge energy has gone into getting better tax breaks for charities. Even now the $630 rebate for donations to charities is pathetic by world standards. Virtually unlimited regimes now apply in nations such as the USA and the UK.

“More importantly successive governments during the last 20 years have continued to undervalue the fantastic contribution which charities make to NZ society. I hate to think what New Zealand would be like without them.

“We would instead have to deal with the well-intentioned but faceless bureaucrats of CYFS and the Department of Social Development – hardly an adequate replacement for the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, or the Society of St Vincent de Paul. It would be costing taxpayers hundreds of millions in extra expenditure each year.

“I want to see charities flourish and Kiwis given every encouragement by Government to be generous. That way we can begin to scale back the bureaucracy and see many of our social issues, especially family breakdown, dealt with in a compassionate and caring way.

“The establishment of a Charities Commission to register and monitor charities is an important step along that road.

“Once it’s up and running, I’ll be pushing for a significant and substantial increase in the donations rebate – something which the lack of a registration system has forestalled until now,” said Mr Copeland.


NB Gordon Copeland was a member of the Charities Working Party appointed by Government to progress these issues immediately prior to his election to Parliament in July 2002.

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