Destiny Church tax-free status under Govt spotlight

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

Destiny Church will be under the Charities Services microscope after a complaint about its tax-free status.

The complaint by the member of the public comes after the church and its leader Brian Tamaki made controversial comments that gays and sinners were responsible for the devastating magnitude 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake.

Charities Services, which is part of the Department of Internal Affairs, says it is following their "usual process" when a complaint is made.

That involves an initial assessment on whether there are grounds to believe a charity may be breaching the Charities Act or "may be responsible for serious wrongdoing".

The outcome of that assessment will dictate whether a full investigation is needed.

Mr Tamaki's comments raised the ire of many across the country including politicians, the LGBT community and others in the religious sector.

Just over 123,000 people signed an online petition to strip the church of its tax-free status and have it declared a hate group.

Churches largely avoid paying taxes because, according to the law, the advancement of religion is considered a charitable purpose.

It also spawned a positive spinoff for LGBT organisation Rainbow Youth, with people donating money to the charity under Mr Tamaki's name. More than $4200 was raised for the organisation, with chief executive Duncan Matthews saying it was a good response to the "disgust" people felt about the comments.

Mr Tamaki's wife Hannah claimed they'd be able to get a tax rebate on those donations, but without official receipts that won't happen.

A "protest gig" called Gay Quake is also being held in Wellington to raise money for the affected Kaikoura residents.