Here is a note from the New Zealand Charities Services, which is a branch of the Department of Internal Affairs. It describes an interesting meeting held in Australia between different charity regulators including the Charities Directorate.
International Charities Regulators’ meeting
Interacting with other charity regulators representing several other jurisdictions at a recent international meeting gave Lesa Kalapu, General Manager Charities Services, and John Currie, Manager Registration, an insight into common topics and issues.
In early April, along with charity regulators from England and Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Singapore, Canada, Australia, both attended the 7th International Charity Regulators meeting in Melbourne. Also present were tax officials from the Australian Tax Office (ATO), UK Revenue Office and New Zealand Inland Revenue.
“We discussed a range of topics during the two-day meeting and found the issues and problems we faced were common across all jurisdictions,” John said. “It was good to be joined up internationally as building these important relationships means we can be stronger together and make it work.”
Topics on the agenda included the most appropriate compliance approach, where religion stands as a ‘head’ of charity in an increasing secular society, the effects of social media on the regulation of charity and red tape reduction.
The interface between charity law and equalities legislation was also considered, as was the line between social enterprise and commercial activity, the use of charities of tax exemptions, whether a charity has a public or private benefit, the issue of wealth accumulation in charities, and the independence of charitable entities governance bodies.
“After our two days in Melbourne we went to Sydney to speak at the public forum hosted by the Australian Charity Law Association on the topic: Effective charity regulation around the world,” John said.
“This was also an opportunity for us to be questioned by the audience about a number of issues relating to charities and also about the future of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC).
“Not surprisingly a number of questions were directed towards the future of the ACNC which faces potential disestablishment in July with a merger of some functions back into the ATO.
“While there was a comparison of the different operating models used across all jurisdictions sentiment largely fell in support of retaining the ACNC model as it currently stands,” John said.
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Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.