Exclusive Brethren are praying for IRD

The Exclusive Brethren has asked its members to pray for the Inland revenue department (IRD) after a breakthrough settlement in a tax dispute.

In a prayer agenda, the Exclusive Brethren church told its 45,000 worldwide members it had received a “favourable settlement” in a dispute over schools’ fees.

“Outcome – NZ IRD matter – a favourable settlement was arrived at for school fees and fee relief. The attitude of NZ IRD should be applauded.”

IRD group tax counsel Graham Tubb was bemused by the prayer agenda. “It’s great to hear that people are praying for us – I don’t think it happens all that often.”

The sect runs its own private Westmount Schools, which have received $14.5 million from the Ministry of Education in the past five years.

An investigation into the church has found dozens of trusts that are controlled by church members lawfully receive tax deductions on donations, without registering on the Charities Register.

A spokesman for the church said it wasn’t obliged to register.

The New Zealand charitable trusts, which own 191 churches and halls around New Zealand, run the Brethren’s Westmount schools, and even a Brethren travel agent, are understood to be controlled by members loyal to the worldwide leader, Sydney-based accountant Bruce Hales.

It’s understood New Zealand Brethren members pay large amounts of donations direct to Hales, who flies by private jet, and is known as the Elect Vessel.

In 2015, Hales said a mentally unstable New Zealand Brethren member who was in contact with excommunicated members – known as “opposers” – should ‘drink rat poison”.

A church spokesman said the remarks made by Hales at a church meeting had been taken out of context and applied with a literal interpretation.

“He is using a common, everyday, metaphor used to describe the effect on a person coming into contact with another person whose beliefs and values are different from their own and potentially damaging.”


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News category: New Zealand.

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