Article from the SectsFiles

Great article posted up by Lance from his site http://groupsects.wordpress.com/! Here’s my Christian view: BRING IT ON!

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The Australian reports….

“Between now and August 29 the Senate Standing Committee on Economics will receive a flood of submissions into one of the most controversial and political hot potatoes: an inquiry into the disclosure regime for charities and not-for-profit organisations in Australia.

After that, the Senate has almost three months to finalise a report that has the potential to rock Australia’s $80 billion-plus non-profit sector.

The inquiry will examine the appropriateness of disclosure levels in the sector, models of regulation and legal forms that would improve governance and management of charities and not-for-profit organisations and other measures to improve governance, standards, accountability and transparency in its use of public and government funds.

Depending how gutsy the report wants to be, it could recommend a complete overhaul, starting with the creation of a charities commission, similar to the model adopted in Canada, Britain, and New Zealand, which would streamline all charities under the one regulator.

It could also enforce a set of accounting standards to ensure that all not-for-profit organisations quantify and detail the size of tax exemptions, grants and donations, as well as recognising three core business segments: raising funds, administering funds and spending funds.

This would enable charities to be monitored for best practice. It could also take the opportunity to recommend an overhaul of the Banking Act so that if a religious group sets up an investment scheme, it is subject to the same regulatory rigours as any other investment scheme.

At the moment, religious groups with financial activities are exempt from the Banking Act. And if it had the stomach to take on the religious groups, it could recommend a working towards competitive neutrality to bring Australia into line with most other countries by forcing religious groups to pay tax on earned-income ventures such as pizza and coffee chains, cereal businesses, and wineries that have little or nothing to do with charitable work. Every few years new governments launch an inquiry into the not-for-profit sector, which ranges from charities, religious groups, clubs and health funds, in an attempt to fix a sector that represents almost 10 per cent of the economy, employs more than 600,000 people and represents more than 700,000 organisations. This time it was prompted by the Australian Democrats, Andrew Murray and Lyn Allison, who in March called for an inquiry by the Senate. It was their parting gift to a sector that is in a mess. Both retired from politics on June 30.

The Democrats have set the ball in motion, so now it is up to the Rudd Government to do something about a sector in dire need of reform. It is one of the most powerful, far-reaching sectors in the country, yet it lacks governance standards, accountability and transparency in its use of public and government funds. Indeed, as governments increasingly outsource more and more areas of business to the non-profit sectors, by making them government service providers in areas like the Job Network, and sign contracts with them worth billions of dollars, the need for transparency and accountability is critical. In an era of corporate regulation, most parts of the non-profit sector are unregulated.

There is no process for the registration of charities, no consistent collection of information about the activities or funding sources of charities and there is little or no monitoring of the activities of charities. The upshot is there is no means by which the public can ensure that a charitable organisation is pursuing the activities and purposes it claims to carry out. It also means that the Australian Government has no idea how big the sector is, or how much it forgoes in tax a year. The access to charitable status is currently regulated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). But the ATO has limited expertise in the regulation of charities. In a submission to a government review of the sector in September 2000, the ATO itself recommended the establishment of a separate body to regulate access to charitable status at the federal government level. “It’s our view that the current system of tax concessions provides an unnecessary layer of administrative cost and complexity, and lacks transparency. We would accordingly favour a single targeted, transparent and accountable program of direct outlays.” Most charities do a terrific job. Some release detailed accounts to the public of how much they earn, and how they spend the money. But there is no law that says they have to _ and many do not.

There is also little accountability of where the money goes or the businesses that these organisations operate. It is no surprise, then, that some not-for-profit groups run businesses. For instance, the Seventh Day Adventists run food business Sanitarium Health Foods, which is believed to turn over more than $300 million a year. The Catholic Church, which turns over more than $15 billion a year, runs schools, hospitals, insurance companies, car parking lots and a funds management business. The biggest Pentecostal church, Hillsong, sells CDs, DVDs, self-help books and T-shirts. Australia is one of the few places in the world where these types of business are not taxed. Most other countries treat companies run by the non-profit sector like any other corporation: forced to pay tax if they make a profit. In the interests of budget honesty and transparency, taxpayers are entitled to know who is entitled to tax concessions under both commonwealth and state legislation……..”

From http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24048769-5012439,00.html


5 thoughts on “Article from the SectsFiles

  1. GET TO WORK GOVERNMENT GUYS!!

    Im outraged!-yep, if there is a loophole, somebody will find it eh!

    and yet, one wonders that in Communist countries, you’d only pay a few bucks a year for accomodation or energy; food was cheap, and people were paid about equally, no matter how hard you worked!-Communists were taught that Capitalist countries kept their people in ‘economic slavery’…..hmmm,

    I mention this to counterpoint just how much grab the Taxman already has, and the rest of us would like to see Mr Taxman get those slothful and money-grabbing Charity organizations too, just to make things fairer for the rest of us!

    [I for one, believe in getting Criminals back into hard-labour,work-camps for the unemployed, Government-based Medical & Science Foundations, and getting institutions like the Army to do productive work!-hah!, good luck with all that!]

    I suppose ‘Commonwealth’ means ‘Taxed & re-distributed’ [perhaps different somewhat to the ‘Commonwealth of Israel’ in the Bible!:

    Ephesians 2:12
    “remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

    -Hmm, very interesting!-can anyone unpack this richness for me please?]

    But seriously folks, I salute the above efforts; sounds ‘like an Industry in itself’; and hope to see the fruit of it in our lifetime; you’ll see alot of shady characters scurrying from the harsh glare of the Economic light, rest assured!

    Z.

    Zeppelins wry and cynical, skull-like grin turned away in a waft of menthol-smoke, and the elegant, strange leather-clad figure began to climb the tall ladder leading to the ships gondola.

  2. And the Democrats wonder why they’re outed from Parliament. They’ve been after churches in general, ad charities as a by-product, for as long as Alison has been influential.

    Churches and charities, on the whole, fill gaps in grass-roots society which wise Governments know are incredibly expensive to run without a huge collegiate of voluntary, and dare I say it, largely amateur yet willing group of people who want to help suffering people with needs.

    So now silly people want to tax them out of the equation and then be forced to tax the rest of the economy into gross national debt when they start to have to fill in the shortfall.

    Yes, if there is a profit making wing, there should be changes, or provisos, whereby profit made on sales should be poured into church or school expansion, or charitable works, keeping them in the ultimately not-for-profit sector, which is what most churches with an entrepreneurial understanding seek to do anyway. There should be nothing wrong with entering business enterprises with the aim of providing capital for mission expansion.

    Those engaging in the Banking Sector should be taxed at the same rate as commercial banking enterprises, unless all profit is seen to be put into charitable works or church mission expansion (not just building works).

    The Democrats lost sight of their original, useful, mandate, and, in the last few years, worked against God, and fell accordingly.

  3. You may be missing the key points of the above article dear Facelift;

    “At the moment, religious groups with financial activities are exempt from the Banking Act. And if it had the stomach to take on the religious groups, it could recommend a working towards competitive neutrality to bring Australia into line with most other countries by forcing religious groups to pay tax on earned-income ventures such as pizza and coffee chains, cereal businesses, and wineries that have little or nothing to do with charitable work.

    Every few years new governments launch an inquiry into the not-for-profit sector, which ranges from charities, religious groups, clubs and health funds, in an attempt to fix a sector
    that represents almost 10 per cent of the economy, employs more than 600,000 people and represents more than 700,000 organisations.”

    AND,

    “There is no process for the registration of charities, no consistent collection of information about the activities or funding sources of charities and there is little or no monitoring of the activities of charities. The upshot is there is no means by which the public can ensure that a charitable organisation is pursuing the activities and purposes it claims to carry out. ”

    I dont think the question is about people who want to help others for FREE, but those who run ‘profitable businesses’ without being taxed; there’s nothing quite like having a ‘nation within-a-nation’ that does not pay taxes, and while Criminal Networks need to be hunted down first, and Tax-cheats & ‘Black Money’ secondly, it only seems appropriate that the government keeps a watchful eye over the colossal funds that stream through the hands of many Religious & Charity & Club’ organizations, who may be merely exploiting loopholes in the Law, and not doing what they claim to do.

    Napoleon Bonaparte used the Church to ‘maintain social order’, and ran the Gambling-houses under Government auspices;- smart & profitable.

    And yet these ‘large amateur groups’ mentioned above really deserve to be looked at;
    -How many religious ‘Counsellors’ are completely unqualified and untrained, and ultimately, are unaccountable & sometimes dangerous?
    -How many Con-men get through the Churches?
    -Why should commodities produced by for Religious organizations for public sale be tax-exempt?
    -Society is full of Humanist people who already want to help others with needs; why should religious people be particularly special in the eyes of the Government?
    -and these few notes dont address the many Club & non-religious charities that arent regulated; who’s to say they are doing the right thing at all?

    Your ‘shoulds’ signpost the areas above that really need regulation, as these clearly arent addressed transparently-I do wonder how much real-estate would be released for people if such were appropriately scrutinised?

    [My own Church congregation turns well over 400K/annum; yet apart from producing sermons and renting a couple of buildings and some great missions work in New Guinea, my congregation really does not apparently DO or PRODUCE anything material for that sum of money.- This just goes to show how odd society really is, I wonder!]

    The Private sector must run efficiently to survive; its interesting that Government and religious/charity systems dont necessarily need to.

    Your parting comment at the end strikes me as slightly odd Facelift;
    “The Democrats lost sight of their original, useful, mandate, and, in the last few years, worked against God, and fell accordingly.”

    -Why?- because the Liberals held much of the Christian vote and also fell -I remember a particular religious sect that trooped up to Parliament House on the news , claiming that ‘God had showed them Howard would win the election”, and prayng & worshipping fervently.

    Howard fell from Government; therefore he must have been working against God too!
    (which might explain the drought partially breaking after his defeat)

    So, what is the pleasant comparison we can make between our own Commonwealth & that of the Commonwealth of ancient Israel?—-I guess Im ironically noting that theres actually very little comparison, because we operate on different principles, but I suspect worth looking-into.

    Society is a funny thing; we bring ‘hive mentality’ to some areas; prosecute some sector, and fail to balance or question others!

    Im sure theres much more to say & think about on this thread, so have fun guys!

    Z.

  4. The Democrats have been obliterated from the Senate. They are no more. They are dead. They were on the nose with the electorate. They made decisions on policy which were offensive to Christians. They reached their use-by date. The Liberals go on, and will eventually come back into power. That is what I meant.

    The ‘amateurs’ are the many volunteers who man Community Service organisations. Generally they are led by people who know what they are doing, but the volunteer base helps them be effective.

    Over-legislative government stifles enterprise and liberty. There are presently no dedicated laws which are applicable to the way churches operate. They are grouped with the not-for-profit sector because governments in general don’t understand how they function. If there was legislation for the way churches are run then we might have a better balanced view, but then again, the State could be seen to be legislating for how the Church is run, and there would be interference in Church affairs. It is a tricky area. If we want separation of Church and State, we also need separation of State and Church. You can’t have it one way without the other.

    How many con-men, etc, get into Parliament? Into schools? Into local government? Business? Pharmacies? Accountancy firms? What is you point? Every sector needs checks and balances. Most church groups and denominations have stringent policies in place these days, and have to submit their constitution and annual audits to the government and tax office. It is very tight, and regulated already.

    If your church has an annual income of $400k it is probably around 300 strong. It costs that much to run a church that size. Sad but true. People have this idea that we all just show up on Sunday and everything does itself, and costs nothing because money is such a taboo subject in ‘church’. They need a reality check.

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