Australia: Impact of Charity and Tax Law/Regulation on Not-for-Profit News Organizations


    Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review


    Australia has highly commercial print and broadcast media, public broadcasting,
    and some not-for-profit media operations. Although there is growing interest in
    charitable operation of news enterprises, media receive no special treatment and
    must meet requirements established for such organizations by national and
    state/territorial authorities. Historically, media operated by religious organizations, community broadcasters, and education and welfare services have been recognized as meeting charitable standards. More recently some media associated with educational and scientific institutions have also been granted deductible gift recipient (DGR) status, the most notable being The Conversation—which has now expanded internationally. Taxation treatment of charities and not-for-profit organizations has attracted significant political attention over the past 15 years. Considerations of several public inquiries commissioned by different governments over that period eventually led to the establishment of a national regulatory authority — the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) in 2012 — and the enactment of the Charities Act 2013. The new legislation provided a legal definition of charitable purposes, which opened the possibility of not-for-profit news organizations qualifying for charitable status. However, registration as a charity does not automatically confer tax-deductibility for gifts or donations received. That coveted privilege is restricted to organizations executing specific categories of public benefit activities such as health, education and welfare that have been endorsed by the Australian Tax Office. Consequently, only a small handful of not-for-profit news organizations are able to attract tax-deductible donations directly or indirectly via a relationship with a DGR organization. Inability to register as a charity or to offer tax deductibility for donations does not appear to have inhibited investment in new news organization ventures. In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, there were several calls for the provision of tax assistance to news organizations by journalism academics and interests associated with some emerging news ventures. However, legacy media organizations were opposed to tax assistance and independent considerations concluded that it was not warranted. Currently, the predominant view among policy makers seems to be that Australia is well served by a diverse and growing number of news organizations and consequently there is no immediate need for tax concessions or other assistance to promote their further development.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe impact of charity and tax law/regulation on not-for-profit news organizations
    EditorsRobert G. Picard, Valerie Belair-Gagnon, Sofia Ranchordás
    PublisherReuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford, and the Information Society Project, Yale Law School, Yale University
    Number of pages23
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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