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Donee organisations needing to register with Charities Services

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From 1 April 2020 all entities with charitable purposes, that qualify for registration under the Charities Act, are required to be registered with the Department of Internal Affairs - Charities Services (Charities Services) in order to qualify for or retain donee tax status.

Having donee tax status qualifies your organisation for tax benefits such as donations of money qualifying the giver for a donations tax credit or a tax deduction.

Are you already registered?

If your organisation is already a registered charity, perhaps under a different name or as part of a larger organisation, please contact us at not-for-profits&charities@ird.govt.nz to let us know.

Donee organisations

Generally, a donee organisation is one which applies its funds wholly or mainly in New Zealand to:
   1. charitable purposes
   2. benevolent purpose
   3. philanthropic purposes
   4. cultural purposes.

Charitable purposes defined

A charitable purpose is where the rules of an organisation clearly state that its purposes are for one or more of the following:

  • the relief of poverty
  • the advancement of education
  • the advancement of religion
  • any other matters that are beneficial to the community.

The organisation's aims must also be for a public purpose except where they are for the relief of poverty. The benefit must be available to a large part of the community and the activities must not result in the private benefit or profit of any individual.

Further information is available here.

Benevolent, philanthropic and cultural purposes defined

In general terms only:

  • Cultural purposes include dramatic, theatrical, operatic, ballet, choral or musical.
  • Benevolent and philanthropic purposes basically mean doing good for other people, for example, organisations whose proceeds or funds are used to benefit all or a large part of the public.

What you need to do

Registering with Charities Services

Charities Services can only register an organisation when confident that it has exclusively charitable purposes, is for the public benefit, and its activities do not result in the private benefit or profit of any individual.

Registrations can be backdated to the date a properly completed application is received.

A checklist of what is required as part of the application is available here.

Sporting groups or organisations

Sporting organisations can qualify as charities if the promotion of sport is the means by which a charitable purpose is pursued – for example the ‘advancement of education’ or ‘promotion of health’. It must also advance benefits for a significant section of the public, not primarily for elite sportspeople.

Further Information

Further information can be obtained from Charities Services, Inland Revenue guide Charitable and donee organisations - IR255, or you can email Inland Revenue at not-for-profits&charities@ird.govt.nz

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