Grass-roots charities the biggest winners with tax reform

GRASS-ROOTS charities around regional Australia could be the biggest beneficiaries of reforms to give all non-profits tax breaks on donations, with a key charity group urged the Abbott Government make the changes.

In a submission to the May Federal Budget, the Community Council for Australia has urged the government to take on seven key changes to boost the not-for-profit sector.

Across Australia, the sector has been estimated to add $43 billion to gross domestic product, employ at least 890,000 people, and more than 400,000 charities are smaller, local organisations.

The submission also called for more resources for the newly created Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, a key body created to regulate the industry.

The commission maintains a register of hundreds of thousands of charities around the country, many of which as smaller, regional art, sporting and cultural groups.

CCA chief executive David Crosbie said the sector was too important to be neglected in the coming federal budget, urging the government to provide "real investment that strengthens the sector".

"We are often treated as the 'third sector' behind government and business, but it is increasingly important for governments to increase their investment in this sector if we are to build a resilient and productive society for all Australians," he said.

"In tough times we need more, not less capacity in our not-for-profit sector. Cutting charities hurts us all in the long run."

Among the key initiatives the CCA called for was to give all registered charities deductible gift recipient status, meaning donors can claim their donations as a tax break.

While many larger charities are already registered for DGR, the smaller, regional community sector has many organisations which are not, but could be reaping the benefits.

But as the Abbott Government's Commission of Audit considers the future of all government programs, the ACNC could be one that comes under the axe.

While the government will not comment on the recommendations of the Audit, it is understood the future of the commission is under consideration for changes under the audit.

The CCA also called on the government to create a new blueprint for the future of the sector, as well as implement several key changes of a Productivity Commission and Senate inquiry into the sector in recent years

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