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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 19

Senator STEPHENS (Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector and Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Prime Minister for Social Inclusion) (1:58 PM) —In summing up the debate on the Tax Laws Amendment (Political Contributions and Gifts) Bill 2008, I thank all the senators who contributed. I will go right back to the facts, if I may. The bill honours the government’s election commitment to remove tax deductibility for donations made to political parties, candidates and members. It was a commitment made as part of Labor’s $3 billion saving plan announced by the current Minister for Finance and Deregulation on 2 March 2007.

Currently, as we all know, deductions are allowed for donations to political parties, members of parliaments and candidates, including Independents, up to a maximum of $1,500. Donations and membership fees used to be deductible up to the lower $100 threshold prior to 2006, when the former government implemented an increase up to the current $1,500 and then expanded the deduction to donations to Independent candidates and members. However, the current measure maintains access to the GST concessions for political parties, Independent members and Independent candidates that were available to them as gift deductibility entities. This will prevent the GST compliance costs of these entities from increasing as a result of removing the income tax deductibility for political donations. The measure itself is estimated to save $10 million per annum. On the basis of that, I commend the bill to the Senate.

Debate interrupted.