Powers of deduction: Tax deductions, environmental organisations and the mining industry

Donations to environment organisations in Australia are tax deductible as long as the organisation in question is listed on the Commonwealth Register of Environmental Organisations. This listing gives an organisation Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status. A parliamentary inquiry is looking into the Register, largely at the behest of the mining industry.

Parts of the mining industry consider environment groups that protest or engage in advocacy to be a “threat” to their business and are actively campaigning to “challenge the way these people are funded”. Industry lobby groups that represent companies like BHP, Rio Tinto and Santos, are calling for tax deductibility of environment groups to be abolished, aside from groups that engage in on-ground activities.

The mining lobby’s concern for the taxpayer comes at a time when tax avoidance by mining companies has been attracting headlines and featuring in other parliamentary inquiries. Ironically, spending by mining companies on lobbying activities is also tax deductible.

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