Advocacy Group Calls for Caution in Inquiry
19 February 2001 at 12:02 pm
The Women’s Legal Resource Centre has told the Federal Government’s Inquiry into the Definition of Charities that there is a need for much greater clarity about what constitutes a ‘charity’ and a ‘public benevolent organisation’.
The Centre claims that without this there is a danger that public confidence in those agencies employing advocacy in undertaking Not for Profit public good activities will be undermined.
The WLRC coordinator, Margot Rawsthorne, says there is a public perception that some so called ‘Not for Profit’ organisations are exploiting the tax benefits of their status and disguising profits as salaries and this has ramifications for all other Not for Profits.
Rawsthorne says there is also considerable confusion amongst organisations with PBI status about their rights and responsibilities particularly in relation to the concept of ‘charity’.
She says her organisation would support the clarification of these issues via a public consultative process.
The WLRC says it is concerned that the Australian Tax Office has become the defacto arbitrator in relation to rights and responsibilities of Not for Profit organisations.
Margot Rawsthorne says it would seem inappropriate that the decision about an organisation’s tax status should be decided by the ATO which has a mandate to maximise the collection of tax, and an investigation into other options for determining taxation status should also be included in a public consultation process.
In the hard hitting submission, the WLRC says that given the changes experienced over the past 18 months (as well as the FBT changes from 1st April, 2001) it would seem timely for the Government to provide a white paper on what role it sees for Not for Profit organisations and what other areas of reform it may be contemplating.
The submission concludes that the WLRC strongly recommends that any further reforms of the taxation status and associated administration of Not for Profits be approached with extreme caution.
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