This paper was published in the eJournal of Tax Research (2007) vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 59-70. This paper may also be referenced as [2009] UNSWLRS 45.


Charities are granted significant financial benefits through the exemption from income tax and deductibility of donations under the provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act, 1997 (Cth). The concept of what is a charity or a charitable purpose which is a fundamental requirement of the income tax exemption is not defined in any taxation legislation and must be found in the common law. The courts have concluded that a charitable purpose includes charities for the benefit and assistance of the sick. An organization that has been established for the benefit of employees and former employees who are suffering work related illnesses would therefore have a charitable purpose. There is however the further requirement that the entity’s objectives must be for the benefit of the public. This article analyses the requirement of public benefit for a charitable purpose as it relates to an entity established for the benefit of employees and former employees of a large corporation. It discusses the rationale for the public benefit requirement and how the courts have applied this criterion to trusts for the benefit of employees and former employees. In conclusion it examines alternative approaches to the current application of the public benefit test.


Tax Law

Date of this Version

November 2009

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