12/11/2015 - 12:10

More charities lose tax concession status

12/11/2015 - 12:10

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Nearly 50 Western Australian charities are among 169 Australian organisations to have their charitable status revoked today after failing to meet disclosure requirements.

Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades of WA vice-president, Dave Gossage. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Nearly 50 Western Australian charities are among 169 Australian organisations to have their charitable status revoked today after failing to meet disclosure requirements.

Forty-five WA charities, including 22 volunteer bush fire brigades, several trustees for family foundations, and religious organisations have now been struck off the national register of about 50,000 charities.

Today’s decision comes after more than 580 WA charities losing their status in June as part of a major purge by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission; About 6,000 charities from a total of 56,500 lost their status.

ACNC commissioner Susan Pascoe said the charities had failed to provide two years of reporting data and many were likely to be inactive.

“Over the past three years of operation we’ve tried to reach these charities multiple times, but letters have been returned unopened, emails have bounced back and our phone calls have found disconnected numbers,” she said.

Ms Pascoe said despite some charities dropping off, 99 per cent or nearly 50,000 charities complied with listing requirements, by completing their 2013 annual information statement.

She said 83 per cent had handed in their 2014 data so far and the ACNC was working with straggling charities to ensure they submitted their reports.

Charities that have had their status revoked will now be reported to the Australian Taxation Office to ensure they no longer received charity tax concessions.

Business News has previously reported that many charities have found complying with ACNC regulations to be too difficult.

Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades of WA vice-president, Dave Gossage, told Business News earlier this year that ACNC requirements effectively doubled the workload for time-poor volunteers who were already frustrated by various administrative responsibilities.

“The amount of red tape and paperwork we had to go to as volunteers … it’s just too complex and time consuming and unreasonable,” Mr Gossage said.

“When I go around the state, the common whinge that I get is that between the local, state and federal government, the amount of paperwork we’ve got to do is getting overwhelming.

“We’ve got bureaucracy being brought in to tick a box basically, and the reality is they don’t see the long-term consequence of that.

“It makes the bureaucrats’ job easy, but they don’t understand ... you’ll end up with volunteers just chucking in the towel, saying there’s too much paperwork.”

He said he was concerned bush fire brigades would miss out on vital charitable donations that complemented activities such as fighting fires, which are paid for in part by funding from the state emergency services levy.

“The businesses that traditionally may have supported bush fire brigades and got that tax concession may not support them anymore,” Mr Gossage said.

Depending on a brigade’s location, he said between 10 and 50 per cent of day-to-day activities, such as community and school education visits and prescribed burning activities, were funded by charitable donations.

“There was a 10.3 per cent emergency services levy increase this year but none of it’s been seen by the volunteers on the ground; that increase is going into the state government’s daily administrative costs. That’s why we are still having to fundraise,” Mr Gossage told Business News.

 

 

 

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