Is the Bish taking the pish?

Churches, charities and societies are excellent devices for personal empire building, and in the New Zealand environment not filing your returns on time, accurately, or – to be frank – at all, has really had very little backlash.

If it wasn’t for our series by Owl, a few unions would still not be filing theirs.

Now it seems Brian Tamaki wants to obfuscate?the money trail rather than explain to the New Zealand public how much he got and what he’s doing with it.

Controversial Destiny Church has been issued overdue notices after 14 affiliated charities are late filing their annual returns.

The church’s tax-exempt status is under the microscope after the late filing. Previous returns from the charities totalled several million dollars.

Six Destiny-affiliated charities, which received a combined $5.5m in donations in the most recent returns, are more than a year overdue in filing statements with the public charities register.

During the same period, Bishop Brian Tamaki has repeatedly asked churchgoers to donate to pay for the church’s new multi-million-dollar City of God in Manukau.

When unveiling plans for Destiny’s City of God in 2012, Tamaki said: “I don’t care what the media say, I don’t care what your relatives say, I don’t care what the world says, nobody should be not tithing.”

An Internal Affairs spokeswoman said they were actively seeking overdue annual returns from a number of charities associated with the Destiny Church.

Charities could be deregistered if they “significantly and persistently” failed to comply with the Charities Act.

14 affiliated charities not filing returns is obviously the outcome of something deliberate. ?It’s not like one or two are tardy. ?Incorporated societies and charities have been taking the tax payer for a ride for… for ever. ? I for one welcome any moves to throw some sunlight on it. ?

Hayes Knight chairman Craig Fisher, an expert in not-for-profits, said organisations that were getting a tax benefit were receiving it from the Government on behalf of the general public. “Part of the quid pro quo is the fact that they need to be transparent and accountable. Not filing their information on time means they’re not doing a great job of that transparency.”

Under changes proposed to the Charities Act, organisations like Destiny that operate a large number of charities will have to file consolidated financial statements.

Fisher said some charities were concerned about “looking too rich” and therefore they have split their donations among different entities.

“Is it possible that someone could set up lots of different entities to try to muddy the picture? Absolutely that’s possible.”

According to the Charities Register, Hannah Tamaki is an officer of 11 Destiny charities. She declined requests for an interview from the Herald on Sunday.

A Destiny Church spokeswoman also refused to say why their annual returns were late.

“That’s between us and the Charities Commission and we’re working on it with them.”

In 2012, two Destiny charities, Destiny Church Rotorua and Destiny TV, were deregistered for not filing annual returns. An analysis of the most recent returns filed by Destiny Church shows its annual donations declined between 2011 and 2012.

Ooooh, deregistered! ?That will teach them! ?And they’ll just set up a few more. ?Play the games with those entities, and have them deregistered as well.

The Tamakis?are sucking millions of dollars out of their followers, tax free, and living a very comfortable life doing so.

Sunlight and real-world repercussions please. ? Not some kind of paper money go round.

 

– Bevan Hurley, Herald on Sunday

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