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Tuesday, 29 September 1942

Mr HOLT (Fawkner) .- This clause is designed to effect an alteration of the method of claiming deductions for gifts to charitable institutions. I understand that the Government has approved of an arrangement under which the past practice in this respect will continue in relation to gifts during the financial year ending the 30th June, but that after that date a new system will operate under which a taxpayer who makes such gifts will be able to claim only a rebate calculated on his rate of personal exertion tax. This arrangement is causing a great deal of concern to many charitable institutions. I know that the Treasurer has received representations on the subject from all parts of the Commonwealth. It is pointed out with considerable force that many charitably disposed persons may feel, in these days of heavy taxation, that they cannot continue to make the contributions to charitable institutions which they were able to make when a deduction of the amount was allowable for income tax purposes. It is feared by those charged with the responsibility of maintaining charitable institutions that on this account they may lose considerable sums which they might otherwise receive. This is a matter to which the Minister for Health (Mr. Holloway) should give close attention. Whilst the new arrangement may result in an increase of revenue to the Treasury it may also conflict with' sound policy. I believe that the Treasury is making a mistake in this matter. The greater revenue may be offset by greater expenditure, because of the drying up of donations to charitable institutions. It has never been easy for persons charged with the management of charitable institutions to balance their budgets and we should not make it harder for them to continue the laudable work in which they are engaged. The proportion of persons in the community able to make substantial gifts to charitable institutions is small, and we should not do anything to reduce it. We should take the long view in this matter, and maintain the past practice. A strong case has not been made out for the new procedure, and I doubt whether the Treasurer can justify it. In the view of many honorable members of the committee this is a retrograde step, for it will discourage gifts to charitable institutions, and so diminish the valuable work that they have been doing.

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