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Generosity Will Strengthen Local Communities

Media Statement
For immediate release
17 April 2008

Government Support Of Giving And Generosity Will Strengthen Local Communities

Members of ComVoices, an independent coalition of Tangata Whenua, community and voluntary sector, say the change will positively impact Sector organisations that rely on multiple funding streams to sustain services to the community.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen and Revenue Minister Peter Dunne announced today that next year they will introduce a voluntary payroll giving system that will give people the opportunity to donate to charitable and philanthropic causes through work-based payroll deductions.

Dave Henderson, Coordinator of the Association of Non-Governmental Organisations of Aotearoa (ANGOA) says the Government's decision will help to recognise New Zealanders' strong commitment to giving, both time and money.

"It will also help to sustain Sector organisations in the great work they do for our local communities," Dave said.

The Ministers have also announced that there will be a law change to clarify and simplify how reimbursements and honoraria paid to volunteers in the non-profit sector are to be treated for tax purposes.

Tim Burns, Executive Director of Volunteering New Zealand says that this will remove the principal problems and associated compliance costs for volunteers.

"There are more than a million New Zealanders taking part in voluntary activities of one kind or another. They are providing everything in our local communities from Saturday morning sport, volunteer fire and ambulance services, and critical social services," Tim says.

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"Just imagine if we had no volunteers for a day the country would grind to a halt."

Robyn Scott of Philanthropy NZ commended Revenue Minister and UnitedFuture Leader Peter Dunne for his hard work.

"Peter Dunne has worked tirelessly to drive this through within this Parliamentary term. He has singlehandedly done more to assist the Sector through taxation than any other Revenue Minister before him," she says.

"We are also delighted to see the Government is signaling that it is going to address the issues around the refundability of imputation to charities. This is long overdue work and I know the Minister has been driving hard for it. We look forward to the Government addressing this anomaly in the short term," she says.

A wide range of Tangata Whenua, community and voluntary sector organisations have been working for nearly a decade to get the issue of tax incentives for giving on to the Parliamentary agenda.

In last year's Budget the caps were removed on tax rebates for charitable donations. As of 1 April 2008, New Zealanders can claim tax rebates up to the level of their taxable income, while companies and Maori authorities can claim deductions for donations up to the level of their annual net income.

Jo Lake, National Executive Officer of Presbyterian Support New Zealand (PSNZ) says the changes are significant for the Sector: "Many Sector organisations rely heavily on multiple funding sources, including donations and philanthropic giving, to maintain the huge range of community services, from care for the elderly, to ambulances, and sport and recreation activities.

"This announcement, soon after the Government's announcement of increased investment in the social services recognises that almost all Sector organisations continue to rely on multiple funding sources," she says.

David Culverhouse, Executive Director of NZ Council for International Development says giving and generosity is part of the Kiwi psyche and needs to be supported.

"Donations to charities and other non-profit organisations amount to over $350 million each year- and that's just the ones we know about. That figure represents the people who bother to claim tax rebates for their donations, so there is probably much more," David says.

"The announcement today recognises that we should support and celebrate giving and generosity in this country," David says.


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