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Tax deductibility of philanthropic donations: Reform of the specific listing provisions in Australia


There are currently 190 not‑for‑profits (NFPs) and other entities that are eligible for tax deductible donations through a system that specifically names them in the income tax legislation. These entities are referred to as deductible gift recipients (DGRs). The approach of naming them in legislation, when they don’t fit within an existing DGR category, has been criticised as being highly politicised and ad hoc. This article provides an in‑depth analysis of the system of specific listing DGRs through the use of four case studies to demonstrate the criticisms that have been raised by scholars and representatives of the NFP sector. It presents arguments that support many of these criticisms, although conceding that the system should not be completely abandoned. It concludes with suggestions as to how this system can be improved.

Author profile

Dr Fiona Martin CTA
Fiona is a solicitor, academic and chartered tax adviser with The Taxation Institute. She commenced working as an academic after several years as a lawyer, both with the government (including the Attorney-General's Department) and in private practice. Her expertise and research are in the taxation law area and in particular how it relates to charities and interacts with issues relating to human rights and traditional land owners. Fiona has published many articles in highly regarded international and Australian law journals, including the Australian Tax Forum and Common Law World Review. She has presented at conferences on issues relating to taxation concessions applying to charities, the application of the GST particularly as it relates to charities and income tax and property development generally. She has also published a number of book chapters and a textbook in the revenue law area. In 2013, she was awarded her doctorate on the application of income tax principles to resource agreements with Indigenous Australians, with particular emphasis on the use of Indigenous charities as a tax-exempt structure. She has also received several research awards. - Current at 01 April 2016
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