In 2012, the Crown entity Charities Commission was disestablished and Charities Services was established in its place under the jurisdiction of the Department of Internal Affairs. Registered charities must meet specific financial reporting requirements and file annual returns with the regulator.

There are over 27,000 registered charities in New Zealand with a reported income of almost $16 billion in 2013 tax year (Charities Services).

Benefits for charities include:

  • Tax exemption on income
  • Donee status allowing donors to claim tax credits on their donations
  • Fringe benefit tax exemption on non cash benefits paid to employees
  • For some charities, they receive government funding.

Charitable purpose as defined by the Act (Charities Act 2005) is defined as ‘every charitable purpose, whether it relates to the relief of poverty, the advancement of education or religion, or any other matter beneficial to the community’. Purposes must operate for the benefit of the public and not private interest. Allowance is given for groups that have non-charitable purposes, provided those purposes are secondary to the main charitable purpose.

Kate Russell is a FINZ Fellow, a member of the FINZ Council and Chair of the FINZ Ethics Committee. Kate is CEO of Canterbury Medical Research Foundation. 



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