The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Chris Bowen

Chris Bowen

Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs

3 December 2007 - 8 June 2009

Media Release of 24/02/2009


Donations to 2009 Victorian Bushfire Appeals

Income tax

The Assistant Treasurer, Chris Bowen MP, today announced that in support of those affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires, the Government will introduce legislation to ensure that the generous donations from around Australia can be used for those affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires for both the immediate response and the longer term recovery and reconstruction efforts.

Specifically, charities which are collecting funds to respond to this disaster will not have their current tax concessional status affected if those monies are used for longer term recovery and reconstruction of community infrastructure in bushfire-affected communities. This will extend the range of support which can be provided by charities using tax deductible donations beyond the delivery of emergency relief.

Legislation will be introduced as soon as practicable to amend the tax and other related laws to provide a mechanism to clarify the status of organisations collecting donations in response to a disaster, such as the 2009 Victorian bushfires. This mechanism will provide a means to ensure that donations to organisations in support of victims of such disasters can be used for immediate relief or reconstruction.

Taxpayers should ensure that they retain their record of donation as guided by the Tax Office media release of 10 February 2009.

Fringe Benefits Tax

The Assistant Treasurer also announced today that the Government will amend the Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) law from the beginning of the 2008-09 FBT year to ensure that donations made under salary sacrificing arrangements do not result in an employer incurring a FBT liability.

To facilitate the collection of donations to those affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires, a number of employers have entered into salary sacrificing arrangements with their employees. These arrangements may result in a potential FBT liability under the current FBT provisions arrangements. In contrast, donations collected through an employer's Workplace Giving arrangements are made from an employee's post tax dollars and do not result in a FBT liability.

The Australian Government will continue to work closely with the Victorian Government to ensure those affected by these devastating bushfires receive all the support and assistance they need.

The Government thanks all the charities involved for their timely assistance during these difficult times. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families and communities ravaged by these devastating events.