Donating to the bushfires

What you need to know.

With the continuing bushfire crisis gripping the country more than $200 million has been raised from individuals, business, celebrities and philanthropists. Notable contributions include Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation providing $20 million and pledging another $50 million to try to stop the scale of the devastation from ever happening again. In contrast about $400 million was raised for the Black Saturday Appeal, a joint effort by the Victorian government and Red Cross.

Not to forget that dozens of companies are offering supplies and allowing staff paid time to volunteer in the bushfire fighting efforts.

But the large amount of financial donations are presenting a new set of challenges for authorities. According to the ATO there are over 6,000 registered charities working on bushfire affected areas. However not all have been set up to receive tax deductible gifts or donations.

Gifts of cash to the value of $2 or more to a disaster relief appeal are deductible if the organisation receiving the gift is endorsed as a deductible gift recipient (DGR). A DGR is an organisation that is entitled to receive tax-deductible donations.

If you are unsure whether an appeal to which you wish to donate is a DGR, you can check the status on the Australian Business Register (ABR) or phone us on 1300 130 248.

If you donate to a bucket appeal that has been approved by us for a specific disaster, you can claim a tax deduction equal to your total donations up to $10 without the usual need to keep a receipt.

You can claim a deduction for gifts of property you make to a DGR under certain conditions.

For gifts of property, there are also various valuation rules. However, if you purchased the property during the 12 months before making the gift, the amount you may claim is the lower of the price you paid for the goods or property, or their market value when you made your donation.

Other types of property donations may also be tax deductible.

The crowdfunding website GoFundMe has close to 3,000 mentions of Australian bushfire fundraising efforts. Whilst it is helping raise lots of cash, its scattering funding to a myriad of organisations and providing an opportunity for scammers to target unsuspecting individuals. Its recommended that the public donate to big charities which have good governance and structures in place to capitalise on the donations – that way you know it is going to be used correctly. Other donations to non-registered DGRs are not tax deductible.

If you would like to donate in Victoria you can do so directly with the state’s Country Fire Association https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/supporting-cfa#donate-cfa 

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