Government moves to strip Destiny Church charities of their tax-exempt status

Simon Plumb
Source: 1News

The Government is moving to strip some Destiny Church charities of their tax-exempt status.

Two of Destiny Church's biggest charities have been issued notices this afternoon informing them that the Department of Internal Affairs intends to remove their tax related privileges by removing them from the Charities Register.

Not all Destiny charities are being targeted, but those involved are at the core of the church's business operations - with assets and income running into millions of dollars, according to the most recent annual accounts filed with Internal Affairs.

"Following the Department's standard practice, a Notice of Intention to Remove from the Register has been sent to two charities (Destiny International Trust and Te Hahi o Nga Matamua Holdings) for failing to file the required annual returns," Internal Affairs told 1 NEWS.

"They now have 20 working days to file an objection to the notice, or file both overdue returns, or they will be removed from the Register.

"Sections 31 to 36 of the Charities Act outline the statutory process for deregistering charities.

"We are unable to comment further while this process is underway."

Repeated delays

The formal notices are the first step in the legislative process of de-registering a charity and come after repeated delays by Destiny Church – the controversial Christian movement fronted by self-appointed bishop Brian Tamaki and his wife Hannah - to supply the required annual accounts to Internal Affairs.

Charities Services, an arm of Internal Affairs, can de-register a charity for a number of reasons, including persistent failure to meet their obligations under the Charities Act 2005.

Some Destiny accounts haven't been filed for two years and despite a number of reminders, deadline extensions and warnings from Internal Affairs, remain missing.

More than 100,000 people signed a petition 11 months ago for Government to strip Destiny Church of its tax-free status.

The petition was launched after Brian Tamaki blamed the gay community for causing Christchurch's deadly earthquakes.

In July, 1 NEWS revealed documents showing Internal Affairs had given 15 Destiny-associated charities 49 notices over the last two years - including reminders to file annual returns and overdue notices.

At the time, an Internal Affairs spokesman said: "Destiny's serial late filing is a real concern to us".

In response, Destiny pledged improvement, with a spokeswoman saying, "we are confident that we will be able to meet the Charities timeframes going forward from here".

In August, 1 NEWS also revealed how Hannah Tamaki had bought a brand new $200,000 Mercedes-Benz , prompting more public criticism of the church's tax exemptions.

The Tamakis declined to be interviewed on the luxury purchase, but Hannah Tamaki tweeted about the report, saying" "What u spend ur $ on, ur business" and she wished she could have an even more expensive car.

At the time, Destiny Church spokesperson Anne Williamson told 1 NEWS the Tamaki's were "surprised at the media's intense interest in their private lives" and "what car they drive is not news.

"It is also a concern to know how you acquired this knowledge, and we will be looking in to that," Williamson said.

The information was acquired by 1 NEWS through public records.

1 NEWS has attempted to reach Destiny Church for a response and so far has not been successful.