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Taxpayers subsidise churches

24 May 2007


Taxpayers subsidise churches

Budget 2007, announced by the Minister of Finance on 17th May, provides a financial windfall for churches that could see them receive millions of extra dollars of tax payer money.

As part of its coalition agreement with Peter Dunne’s United Future party, the Labour government has pledged to remove the tax rebate cap for charitable donations, which was previously set at $1890. The cap from April next year will now be set at any amount up to a donors net income.

In practical terms this means that donors will pay less tax and more money will be available to charities.

Elizabeth McKenzie, President of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists, a body representing the interests of the 1.3 million non-religious New Zealanders, said “we support any measure that sees more money being passed into the hands of genuine charitable organisations that provide a tangible benefit for society. However we are concerned that an archaic definition in New Zealand’s charity legislation means that the promotion of religion alone is regarded as a charitable activity.”

“We do not believe there is any evidence to suggest that the promotion of religion alone provides a benefit to modern society. We strongly oppose removal of the charities cap while promotion of religion continues to be regarded as a charitable activity.”


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