Labor sounds alarm on tax shock for churches

Shadow Treasurer Wayne Swan has said there are "some very worrying reports" that churches and charities are on the Government's tax deductibility hit list.

Speaking during a doorstop interview at Parliament House last week, he said that Treasurer Costello should "come out and clarify the situation", following the talk that an ATO draft ruling would threaten the tax deductibility of charities who are critical of the Government.

Mr Swan claimed that charitable representatives have said that the Government "may be trying to muzzle them".

"As you know, churches and charities have weighed into the industrial relations debate," he said. "They've got a positive contribution to make. It appears that, under this ruling, their tax deductibility could well be threatened."

"This sort of thuggery is typically of a Government that's drunk on its own power," he continued. "I call on Treasurer Costello to come out and clarify the situation, that the great charitable organisations of this community who stand up for many people who have been left behind, will not lose their tax deductibility if they criticise the Government."

But Catholic Health Australia (CHA) CEO Francis Sullivan commented in yesterday's Canberra Update electronic briefing that he believes the Catholic health sector will not be affected.

"CHA is confident that the current tax rulings will prevail and the church's submission to the Tax Office to clarify interpretations of the law will safeguard the charitable status of the church's health and aged care services," he said.

Labor calls on Costello to come clean on charities tax-deductibility (Catholic Health Australia - Canberra Update 15/8/05)
Charities and churches, tax exemptions (Shadow Treasurer Wayne Swan, Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Parliament House, Canberra 10/8/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Health Australia
Income tax guide for non-profit organisations (Australian Tax Office)

Church calls Charities Bill 'unworkable' (CathNews 9/10/03)
Mixed Church reaction to Treasurer's assurances on charities (CathNews 31/7/03)

Scots churches may get billed for fetes (The Universe 15/8/05)

16 Aug 2005