The AFA considers that it is inappropriate that the Charities Act 2013 makes it possible for religions to automatically receive “Charity” status and the ability to receive tax-deductible donations for the purpose of advancing religion (see https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2013A00100)
It is also inappropriate that religious organisations are allowed to run profit-making companies that pay no company tax. As such they may also gain a competitive advantage over other organisations. By way of example, Sanitarium Foods is a company that is wholly owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. According to a Financial Review article (1st of October 2017), in the year 2016/17, Sanitarium turned over $410 million in sales. The company’s website states that:
- As an organisation that operates as a charity, Sanitarium is exempt from company income tax. It pays other taxes that apply to Australian companies. For more information about the Charity Sector and taxation please visit www.acnc.gov.au
- All of Sanitarium’s profits are transferred to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia
According to revenue NSW, religious organisations may receive Land Tax exemptions. The benefit to the Seventh Day Adventist Church could be very significant indeed.