All The Right Moves

Let’s talk about tax.

Or more particularly let’s talk about the charitable tax exemption given to Scientology.

For reasons that are beyond me I have seen very few of Tom Cruise’s movies. Even in the mid/late eighties when he and I were in our respective heydays. Whether it was my twice weekly Rocky Horror attendance that crowded them out or the current boyfriend didn’t want the competition – couldn’t tell you. And it wasn’t as though I was super geeky or anything. Both The Breakfast Club and Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence ‘spoke to me’  – I was young what can I say – so defo the target audience for Mr Cruise. Also have never seen An Officer and a Gentleman but I think that’s Richard Gere.

I did see All The Right Moves an early film that wasn’t too bad. And I did see one of the Mission Impossible films with my boys. Truly excreable but it was clear my offspring not me were the target audience there.

Apart from his films and rotating cast of wives, Tom Cruise is also famous for being a member of the Scientology church which became newsworthy last week. Now again for reasons that are beyond me I had always thought that the Scientology Church wasn’t a registered charity in New Zealand. But recently a former colleague told me that I was wrong.  Perhaps I was thinking of the Jedi? Coz they aren’t a registered charity. 

Yeah that must be it. I was thinking of the Jedi.

But just in case I am not the only one confusing them with the Jedi, I thought I might look at what is public on the Charities Register and how they could have got registered.

Mr CharityWatchNZ  and Society for the Promotion of Community Standards – name which is a blast from the past Patricia Bartlett who didn’t like swearing or nudity – have both done more fulsome discussions on Mr Cruise’s religion in New Zealand which are worth a read.

Now I am sure you remember from A Plague on all your Houses that there are two ways Scientology could become registered. One through the advancement of religion where the benefit to the community is just assumed or through the catch all option of other matters beneficial to the community where there is also a public benefit test that needs to be met.

It appears to have been registered as a religious charity but its purpose statement seems to cover all bases.  Arts and culture; social services; human rights as well as emergency disaster relief . All for the general public and not just members of Scientology. Lucky us. A degree of divinity is defo needed to do all that.

And from the news reports that is what they say they are doing too. Refurbed a heritage building complete with dolls and help disenfranchised youth. Your correspondent is big on help for disenfranchised youth and am sufficiently twee to enjoy a nice heritage building. So go them.

But of course being charitable they not only don’t pay tax on trading income – they also get access to the donations tax credit. You know the one where the ever tolerant taxpayers of New Zealand effectively give a charity one dollar for every two donated. And looking at their annual return this means potentially $600k in 2015 and $250k or so in 2014 and 2013. So  – assuming all donations claimed the credit  – over $1m in 3 years. But it is a lovely building and what about all those disenfranchised youth.

Now they apparently do other stuff. Auditing or something. And if that isn’t beneficial to the community I don’t know what is. Wonder if I can get a donations tax credit for my CAANZ registration? Don’t actually know how to audit though. I wonder if investigate is close enough?

Andrea

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