Jubilant MP welcomes win for Foundation Barossa - with a sting
After a 5 year campaign to convince Treasury officials, the member for Barker Tony Pasin is celebrating Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status being granted to Foundation Barossa.
Foundation Barossa was founded in 2002 and supports underprivileged members of the community, educational pathways for young people, the arts, environmental interests and heritage groups.
Hear the full interview with Tony Pasin on Flow on Thursday on Foundation Barossa's DGR status victory:
Local MP in the foundation's federal electorate, Mr Pasin said it was a long, frustrating campaign on their behalf that has now yielded positive results:
“It [DGR 1] effectively means they [organisations] can offer tax deductions for philanthropic giving for donations – they (Foundation Barossa) were blocked out of that system which meant that the ability to raise funds locally and distribute them locally was significantly impacted.”
“Before they had DGR 1 status, if they were planning to provide those funds to a non-DGR 1 charity...they couldn’t offer a tax deduction to people offering a donation and whilst small donations aren’t an issue, any serious level of corporate donations as part of a social-giving program is going to need that tax-deductibility status because it’s just the way it seems to operate.”
“The Foundation Barossa was locked out of that opportunity which meant businesses operating in the Barossa wanting to make a philanthropic contribution would have to effectively provide that donation to a city-based charity who would then spend it in the city, which is exactly what Foundation Barossa is trying to avoid.”
“DGR 1 status means that not only will more of that happen now but less of it will leave the district.”
On the eve of a federal election, conservative Liberal MP for the seat covering the Barossa, Riverland and South East, Mr Pasin said he hoped Foundation Barossa’s DGR win was a shift towards supporting more neutral charities, such more than 30 other community foundations that could benefit from the precedent set on Thursday.
Since 2014 some federal Coalition MPs and lobby groups like the NSW Minerals Council have called for protest groups like 'Lock the Gate' to lose their charitable tax deductible status. 2016 CEO Stephen Galilee said at the time that "groups that flout the law or encourage others to do so should not receive special treatment." Former environment minister Greg Hunt launched a March 2015 inquiry into the issue that recommended environmental charities would need to spend one quarter of their money on environmental remediation to qualify for tax-deductible status.
Mr Pasin said on Thursday:
"Whilst its been incredible hard to get community foundations on the DGR listing, as soon as you establish an environmental advocacy group you get (DGR status) immediately because there are generic listings for groups like that.
"The point I was making to my colleagues, we seem to be giving DGR status often to organisations who campaign against political parties and do very little good physically on the ground.
"Yet I'm looking at organisations Foundation Barossa, or Stand Like Stone in Mount Gambier, who just drip in goodwill and are well regarded in their community and do so much good and I couldn't achieve it for them - but ultimately, we won and it was an exercise in persistence."
Developments regarding DGR status in Australia unfolded earlier this month and engulfed Australia’s Mormon Church.
In 2019, the Australian Tax Office concluded that for an Australian charity to have deductible gift recipient (DGR) status, the charity is required to have Australia as “the focal point of the DGR in a legal or organisational sense”.
An investigation found the Australian branch of the religion had played a central role in an international restructuring of the religion from within its HQ in Utah which enabled tax to be minimised for its followers.