3News 2 September 2015
Last week Story investigated a Putaruru charity making loads of money from dairy farming. But it’s not the only big money-making enterprise that says it’s a charity so doesn’t pay tax.
There are two sides to the story – the big guys you probably don’t even know are a charity, then the little guys being told they’re not charitable enough.
Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) is building houses for people who couldn’t otherwise afford to buy their own homes.
“Tens of thousands of people who might be renting, who might live in something that’s old, cold and mouldy and charging them a lot – look, they really want to have their own place,” says CHA director Scott Figenshow.
It sounds laudable, but one of the charities paying for the project might not be a charity for much longer. Its status is under review. It’s not looking good; a similar housing charity in Queenstown has already been deregistered.
Apparently providing a home for a family isn’t work a charity should be doing.
But the housing charities aren’t alone.
“There was a charity in Palmerston North that was operating a food bank,” says lawyer Susan Barker. “Their registration was challenged because they couldn’t prove that the people who were coming to the food bank were poor.”
Ms Barker says the people regulating charities are being too harsh. They’re deciding some of these organisations aren’t doing enough or any public good.
She reckons of 27,000 registered charities, 5100 have been stripped of their status in the past three years. The most famous examples are Greenpeace and Family First – both of whom argued their way back.
“One in five charities are being deregistered. That is enormous because deregistration is supposed to be used only in the most extreme circumstances; it’s the most extreme sanction for a charity.”