Friday, 29th October at 7pm
Earlier this year Senator Nick Xenophon attempted to persuade parliament to amend charity tax laws to include the British idea of ‘public interest’ as grounds for excluding Scientology from its tax-exempt status. This had major implications for all Churches and as such, did not come to pass. As Western economies face the prospect of winding back massive debt following the GFC, how long can they continue to exempt wealthy Churches from income and other taxes? Religious tax subsidies are estimated to cost the Australian taxpayer over $30 billion a year. What level of oversight is there to govern this immense gift by the Australian people? Across the sea, New Zealand has set up a Charities Commission to examine these issues — meanwhile Australia dithers.
Max Wallace is Director of the Australia New Zealand Secular Association (ANZSA). His books, The Purple Economy: Supernatural Charities, Tax and the State, published in 2007 and Realising Secularism, published in 2008 are some of the best references covering the division of church and state in Australia and two of Embiggen Books best-selling titles. In 2008 he received the Charles Southwell Award from the New Zealand Association for Rationalists and Humanists (NZARH) for advancing the cause of secularism. Max Wallace was one of the key speakers at the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne in 2010, which was attended by over 2500 people.