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In a media release issued on 24 February 2009, the Assistant Treasurer, Chris Bowen, announced that in support of those affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires, the Government will introduce legislation to ensure that donations from around Australia can be used for those affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires for both the immediate response and the longer term recovery and reconstruction efforts.

Specifically, charities which are collecting funds to respond to this disaster will not have their current tax concessional status affected if those monies are used for longer term recovery and reconstruction of community infrastructure in bushfire-affected communities. This will extend the range of support which can be provided by charities using tax deductible donations beyond the delivery of emergency relief.

Legislation will be introduced as soon as practicable.

In addition, the Assistant Treasurer also announced that the Government will amend the FBT law from the beginning of the 2008-09 FBT year to ensure that donations made under salary sacrificing arrangements do not result in an employer incurring a FBT liability. To facilitate the collection of donations to those affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires, a number of employers have entered into salary sacrificing arrangements with their employees. These arrangements may result in a potential FBT liability under the current FBT provisions arrangements. In contrast, donations collected through an employer's Workplace Giving arrangements are made from an employee's post tax dollars and do not result in a FBT liability.

For a copy of the Minister's media release, No 2009/010, 24 February 2009, go here.

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