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Greens propose cheap fix to Govt’s expensive charity blunder

29 May 2014

Greens propose cheap fix to Govt’s expensive charity blunder

The Green Party has a Member’s Bill that would have solved the fiasco concerning a Queenstown social housing provider's $6 million tax bill.

The Queenstown Lakes Community Trust was facing the bill from IRD after it was deemed by the Charities Commission that the 'rent to own' housing scheme it offered was not a tax free charitable activity.

“The Queenstown Lakes Community Trust lost their charitable status because of the narrow definition of ‘charitable purpose’ in the Charities Act,” Green Party community and voluntary sector spokesperson Denise Roche said today.

“It is absurd for the Government to rely on a definition from the 18th Century.

“The current definition stems from Elizabethan English law and charitable activity has moved on a lot since then.

“The Government’s decision to pay the taxes incurred by the social housing organisation is an expensive short term fix and takes a piecemeal approach.

“The National Council of Women faced a similar problem with back taxes when they took their case to the high court for a decision on whether they are a charity or not.

“Their charitable status was eventually reinstated.

“It is unfair for the community and voluntary sector to have to take individual cases to court to define whether they are a charity or not.

“The Green Party has the solution to this problem,” said Ms Roche.

“We have proposed legislation that that would extend the definition of ‘charitable purpose’ so that community organisations that also act as advocates can carry on doing good work.”

The Green Party’s Charities Amendment Bill makes it clear that organisations that advocate for the relief of poverty, the advancement of education or religion, or any other matter beneficial to the community that constitutes a primary part of their work may be registered as charitable organisations.

Link to the Charities (Charities as Advocates) Amendment Bill: www.greens.org.nz/bills/charities-charities-advocates-amendment-bill

ENDS

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