Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tax office and Churches

The Tax office wants to start to monitor the tax free status of Churches and not for profit groups. 
While I think there are some legitimate reasons for this status. There are others where you just shake your head and wonder

The Above link looks at Hillsong::

The Sunday Herald Sun can also reveal Hillsong founder Brian Houston uses a not-for-profit company, Leadership Ministries Inc, to fund a burgeoning tax-free global preaching empire.
LMI and other tax-free companies in the Hillsong network provide housing, cars, overseas travel, accommodation, credit cards and other perks free of fringe benefits or income tax.
Since LMI was set up in 2001 the Houston family's relationship with the company has included:
PROPERTY deals that have earned Houston and wife Bobbie $1.3 million. The Houstons are still tenants of the waterfront properties at Bondi Beach and Wilberforce on the Hawkesbury River.
A $1 MILLION FBT-free expense account each year for five employees, including the Houstons.
FULLY funded overseas tours where Mr Houston can earn up to US$20,000 a speech in "love offerings" on the international preaching circuit.
THE refund of all GST paid by the Houstons in their pastoral duties back to LMI.
THE creation of a network of offshore Hillsong subsidiaries.
Assemblies of God pastors around Australia take 75-90 per cent of their salaries as tax-free fringe benefits.
Hillsong finance director Peter Ridley, who is also the public officer of LMI, said the pastor paid personal income tax and had "a personal salary package" of just over $300,000.

I think that for a company for a turnover of a couple of millions then the CEO should be on about $300000. If a church is in this type of market then fair enough.


If it is CD sales, food sales (like sanatorium), property investments or other areas which the competition has to pay full tax then something is not right.

For little Churches and local Charities these tax breaks are important. But for the bigger churches, non-for profits there needs to be scrutiny.

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