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30 April 2015 at 10:24 am
Lina Caneva
Is a company offering to freeze your body for a fee and bring you back to life in the future a charity? And does someone with mild Alzheimer's have the capacity to make a charitable bequest?

Lina Caneva | 30 April 2015 at 10:24 am


Latest NFP Almanac Released
30 April 2015 at 10:24 am

Is a company offering to freeze your body for a fee and bring you back to life in the future a charity? And does someone with mild Alzheimer's have the capacity to make a charitable bequest?

These are two of the more unusual cases canvassed in the latest edition of the Australian Nonprofit Sector Legal and Accounting Almanac, from QUT's Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS).

The Almanac summarises these and other significant cases, legislation, and tax issues impacting the Not for Profit sector.

Voted by an expert panel as being among the strangest cases of 2014 was the New Zealand-based Foundation for Anti-Ageing research. The foundation sought charitable status for its activities, including cryopreservation of whole bodies for up to $200,000 and up to $80,000 for neuro preservation.

Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes, ACPNS founding director, said the Charities Registration Board had rejected the foundation's application for charitable status.

"In considering the registration, the Board found that the foundation's overwhelming purpose was cryopreservation and 'reanimation' research," Professor McGregor-Lowndes said.

"Reasons for rejecting the application included cryopreservation and reanimation lacking sufficient academic credibility and being too speculative to have an educative purpose as well as the cost being too expensive and hence narrowly available and essentially private."

In the case of a Western Australian man who executed a second will leaving a charitable bequest after being diagnosed with mild Alzheimer's disease, the WA Supreme Court found the second will to be valid because it was "properly executed, and is rational on its face".

The presiding judge said that suggested the man was a "person of competent understanding when he executed that will".

Professor McGregor-Lowndes said other unusual cases included in the Almanac included Living Word Outreach Inc v Deputy Sheriff of Victoria about whether multiple traffic infringements were subject to the Bill of Rights 1688, and a dispute between former spouses over the right to control their family foundation.

Asked what the most important case for the Not for Profit sector was in 2014, the majority of the expert panel of 20 specialist Not for Profit lawyers named the victory of the Hunger Project Australia against the Commissioner of Taxation.

"This was a highly significant case because it broadened the eligibility of charities for Public Benevolent Institution status which is the gateway to gift deductibility," Professor McGregor-Lowndes said.

"The decision means many charities and their donors may now be eligible for this generous tax benefit."

The panellists were also asked what their wish would be for law reform in the Not for Profit sector. In a sign the industry is still subject to much legal complexity, one described the situation as a "nightmare". Other suggestions included the abolition or harmonisation of fundraising regulation and consolidation of Not for Profit tax requirements including gift deductibility status for all charities and settling the future of the ACNC.

“A number of legal practitioners have also contributed articles on significant issues facing Not for Profit organisations including mergers of charities, an update on charitable housing, updating deeds of public ancillary funds, use of public ancillary funds by schools and resolving internal disputes,”McGregor-Lowndes said.

The Almanac is freely available from:

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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