Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Why do Christians get a special seat at the tax table?

The Federal government is holding a tax  forum on Tuesday 4 October and Wednesday 5 October to discuss priorities and directions for further tax reform.  After all the reviews we've had, let's hope any reforms are good for Australia.

What concerns me is who is getting a seat at the table - particularly the special treatment for Christian groups.

There have been 20 invited participants representing the community. 6 of these are representing Christian charities. There are peak groups such as ACOSS and others representing housing needs, but there aren't any non Christian charities who have been invited.

Tax exempt status for religious organizations

This skew in attendees matters a lot.

First, in any fearless review of Australia's tax system we must look at the tax exempt status of religious groups. Why they receive this special privilege is beyond me. And with 6 invited Christians on the forum the government is sending a clear message - "you are important and we won't be touching your tax exemption"

Next, these groups all have the same worldview due to their Christian beliefs. Sure, there are lots of business leaders at the forum to present a business viewpoint, but among community leaders there are vast differences. So, why invite 6 groups representing the same ideals and broadly the same people?

Apply to be an attendee

There is one thing you can do. There are still 12 places available for community participants. Expressions of interest close this Friday 12 August. So apply.

The 6 Christian charities invited to the tax forum all do good work for the community. But Australia is all for a fair go - not for making one religious group more important than the rest of us. 

Let me know what you think

Mark S