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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 111


Mr Morrison asked the Treasurer, in writing, on 10 November 2008:

(1)   Will he release advice from the Australian Taxation Office provided to not for profit organisations regarding the potential impact on their charitable tax status of commercial involvement in housing projects approved under the National Rental Affordability Scheme.

(2)   Will he advise whether there is a risk to the charitable tax status of not for profit entities by participating in commercial housing development projects as part of the National Rental Affordability Scheme.

(3)   What action will he undertake to immediately resolve any uncertainty regarding the charitable tax status of not for profit organisations as a result of their commercial involvement in housing projects approved under the National Rental Affordability Scheme.


Mr Swan (Treasurer) —The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:

(1)   The not for profit sector has not sought a formal response from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) in relation to whether participation in the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) would have an adverse impact on the charitable endorsement of a charity. The Courts have shown that determining charitable status is a question of fact which needs to be determined on the basis of the facts of each particular organisation. However, the ATO has provided advice to the charities sector to assist them in making informed decisions, by discussing aspects of the NRAS in various forums, including with the charities consultative committee.

(2)   I refer the honourable Member to my press release of 12 November 2008, entitled National Rental Affordability Scheme - Participation by Charities where I have confirmed that “the Australian Government will introduce a transitional safety net by amending both charity and tax laws. The amendment will mean that the proposed participation of existing charities in the Establishment Phase of NRAS will not affect their charitable status.”

(3)   I refer the honourable Member to my press release of 12 November 2008, entitled National Rental Affordability Scheme - Participation by Charities where I have clarified the Government’s response to this issue.