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Wednesday, 20 May 1936


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - The subject raised by Senator Collings and Senator Leckie is most vexed. Some of the institutions, while they do engage in business, use the fruits of their industry ill most estimable ways. Others are organized to make a trading profit. In this respect their operations resemble those of a State or Federal Government; they have the advantage of escaping from the income tax and various other charges on their profits. They are apparently the cared-for darlings of the several Commissioners of Taxation of the Commonwealth and the States. I point out, however, that this matter was introduced at a conference of Ministers and taxation commissioners, representing the Commonwealth and the States, and it was decided that the existing law should not be amended. Nevertheless, I shall have regard to the representations made to-day by honorable senators, because it has been demonstrated to me on more than one occasion that one institution was simply trading under the cloak of religion. The Federal and States Governments, however, have difficulty in saying to it: " You shall be taxed because you do not expend your money in the way you should," while saying to the larger and more important organizations whose services to humanity have been so marked in Australia : " You shall be exempt from taxation.'' If a line is to be drawn, the trading profits of all these religious bodies will have to be taxed. The point which influenced the Ministers at the conference to which I have alluded was that any decision to compel religious institutions to pay income tax upon trading profits would react harshly upon an organization which is doing great service to the poor of Australia.







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