For release: Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Australian Christian Lobby said today that any changes to the tax treatment of churches and charities, must acknowledge the diverse nature of the sector and particularly the effect on the charitable activities of smaller churches and organisations caused any increased administrative overheads.

The ACL agreed with the Community Council of Australia’s concern to see that the FBT entitlements not be abused and its desire to see DGR status more easily available over time to all charities.

However it is concerned that due to the administrative overheads of compliance for DGRs, that churches be given the choice of opting into DGR or retaining their basic religious charity status with only income tax exemption, but less overheads.

“At the lower end of the charities sector are thousands of church congregations who channel a large part of the high proportion of giving religious people make nationally,” said Mr Wallace.  “While DGR status should be an option, churches must also be able to elect to remain income tax exempt as basic religious charities to simplify the administrative burden for their transfer function and that of their own direct charity work.”

US studies have identified religious giving as providing as much as 75% of donations received by even secular organisations and in Australia religious giving is the highest proportion nationally at one third of total giving.  It is estimated that Christians provide a very significant proportion of private giving to overseas aid through churches and Christian organisations.