DGR Status for Ethics Providers in Govt Schools
16 May 2013 at 12:23 pm
Not for Profit providers of ethics classes in government schools will become eligible for Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status after Federal Government lobbying.
Currently, the tax laws contain DGR general categories for organisations which provide religious instruction in government schools, but there is no category for providers of ethics classes.
Ethics classes were introduced in 2011 as an alternative to special religious education.
Religious organisations that offer classes in government primary schools already have specific funds set up to receive DGR donations.
“If providers of ethics classes want DGR status, an organisation must now make a request to be specifically named in the tax laws, which requires an amendment to be passed by the Parliament in the case of each organisation. This is a time-consuming and uncertain process,” the Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury said.
"Ethics classes provide parents with more choice about educational options for their children," Bradbury said.
"The Gillard Government wants to support ethics classes in government schools through the provision of the DGR tax concession, but making individual organisations jump through hoops to be specifically named in the tax laws is not the right approach.
"The Government will amend the tax laws to expand the DGR categories to include organisations approved by state or territory governments to provide ethics classes in public schools as an alternative to special religious education classes.
"Expanding the DGR categories administered by the Australian Taxation Office to providers of ethics classes is a better and more principled way of providing DGR status to such organisations."
NSW is the only state to legislate in favour of ethics classes as an alternative to Special Religious Education. In all other states there is no formal alternative to SRE.
“Providing DGR status to organisations delivering these ethics classes will help them generate the funds they need to continue operating, by allowing donors to claim a tax deduction for donations to these organisations,” Bradbury said.
Currently the only Not for Profit provider, Primary Ethics, said the service is limited by a lack of funding as it relies solely on private donations.
“DGR status will give the organisation a better chance at raising more funds,” Primary Ethics General Manager, Teresa Russell said.
Russell says the organisation relies on more than 1000 volunteers to provide the ethics classes.
"The push for DGR status really came from the parents themsleves in NSW who lobbied hard through a group they formed called Parents4Ethics."
"We are small organisation but the demand is growing as more and more government schools want to offer this alternative to religious intruction."
The topics covered in ethics classes are wide ranging and include issues such as homelessness, drugs in sport, the whaling industry, cheating and patriotism.
The legislative amendment will be introduced in the current sitting of Federal Parliament.