Receiptless Brian Tamaki won't get Rainbow Youth tax rebate

Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki (File)
Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki (File)

Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki won't be able to claim tax back on donations made in his name to Rainbow Youth, with the group not issuing receipts to "suspicious" contributors.

Mr Tamaki claimed gay people and sinners are to blame for earthquakes, in a sermon the day before last week's magnitude 7.8.

So far, 160 donations totalling $4255 have been made in his name.

In a tweet hitting back at those who'd made the donations, Mr Tamaki's wife Hannah goaded the do-gooders: "Just letting u knw. if u do this. Brian will get a 3rd of that money back. in tax return. so go ahead. make a donation towards us. Thk u (sic)".

It is possible to get a tax rebate on gifts worth $5 or more if there is a donation receipt.

Rainbow Youth executive director Duncan Matthews says, as a matter of course, genuine donors would be able to get a receipt they can use to claim money back.

But if the organisation is "clearly suspicious donations are not from somebody, we don't issue a receipt in that case".

Mr Matthews doesn't believe any of the methods of donating via the website - credit card, direct debit or bank account - would generate a receipt that met the requirements of getting a tax rebate.

"That needs to be signed by an authorised person in the organisation, and the automated receipts aren't signed." 

The most people can claim back is the lesser of either a third of their total donations for the year, or a third of their taxable income.  

So while it is theoretically possible for the Tamakis to claim the money, Parry Field Lawyers partner Kris Morrison says Inland Revenue could scrutinise the their accounts.

"If you didn't have the receipt, I doubt you could make that claim."

Mr Morrison says a second issue would be whether someone can knowingly claim a rebate when they didn't actually make it.

"Typically if the accountant signs it off, unless you're being audited I don't think IRD would look at it that closely," he says.

But should they choose to do that, Mr Morrison says the publicity around the donations could mean there's a "decent chance" IRD would look at their accounts more closely.

Barrister and solicitor Sue Barker, director of Charities Law says IRD has been "very active" in the area of people claiming tax credits for donations since a 2008 law which changed rules around donee status.  

"In principle, if he's making a donation he can make the claim, but he can't claim for money he hasn't donated."

IRD says it can't comment on specific cases, but anyone who knowingly makes a claim for tax credit they haven't made is liable for a $25,000 fine for providing false information. 

Mr Matthews said it was "amazing" people would make donations following Mr Tamaki's comments.

"[It] speaks to the disgust people have when New Zealanders make comments like that. There's not a place for that in New Zealand for those kinds of comments."

He says any comments or actions which hurt the wellbeing of young people increases the workload of organisations like theirs.