Tax churches? Then we’ll bill the Govt for our social services

tax churches

The Government’s idea to tax churches has church leaders totting up the work they do free-of-charge for the community.

The idea doesn’t make sense to them.

What price community good?

Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki (pictured left) doesn’t think much of the tax reform suggestion.

The current tax law – which exempts churches from paying taxes – reflects the good that churches do in the community, he says.

“You’ve got to wonder where his [Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s] head space is, because a lot of churches pick up the mess that dysfunctional governments leave in society” he told NewsHub.

Tamaki says Destiny Church’s social programmes are run without Government help and have a positive impact.

“When you think about it, he’s going to tax that or he’s going to tax our income, I think that’s what he’s talking about.

“I’m going to send him a big bill at the end of every year charging all the cost that we’re doing for free.”

Other Christian church leaders are also up in arms.

Chris Bethwait, who is chair of the InterChurch Bureau explains.

“There’s probably some perceptions out there that churches have a free ride, and aren’t doing much good in the community, so why should they not pay taxes or rates?” he says.

“It would be good to have the conversation and maybe a little bit more known about what churches actually do in the community.”

Why tax churches?

Some say not taxing churches is “an ungodly law”.

They argue that churches going tax- and rates-free when Joe Public pays up is wrong.

Luxon (pictured right) is “actually quite open to that consideration.

“I’ve actually been thinking through the broader dimension of our charitable taxation regimes” he says.

Under New Zealand law, churches are exempt from paying tax but Luxon has left the door open for changes.

“We will certainly be looking at things like that this term, yep.”

For now though, he says church tax reform is “not a focus”.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown is also in favour of taxing churches. They don’t pay rates, he says.

Under the Rating Act, religious organisations are exempt. That should change, Brown says.

“Everybody that we provide services to, which are pipes and water and roads and footpaths and rubbish collections and all those things, everybody that uses them should pay for them.”

Tamaki says Destiny’s Auckland headquarters does pay rates as the property is leased.

If the city’s rating law did change though, other churches in Auckland – some of them on expensive sites – may find themselves with annual rates bills.


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