Communtity Law Manual | Community organisations & the law | Charities and charitable status

Charities and charitable status


Why apply for “charitable status”?

Many groups in the community sector exist for purposes that the law recognises as being “charitable”. Because these groups provide a benefit to the public, they don’t have to pay tax on income that they earn.

To get this tax-exempt status – called “charitable status” – your group will need to register with the Charities Services section of the Department of Internal Affairs.

This section explains:

  • how to register on the Charities Register
  • what kinds of purposes qualify as “charitable” purposes
  • Administrative responsibilities of registered charities
  • removal from the Charities register

Who administers and monitors the charitable sector?

There are several public bodies involved in regulating and monitoring charities in New Zealand:

  • The Department of Internal Affairs, through its “Charities Services” section, administers the Charities Register, monitors and investigates charities, and is also responsible for education in this area. Those functions used to be carried out by the Charities Commission; the Commission was disestablished in July 2012 and its registration, education, and monitoring and investigation teams became part of Internal Affairs and now operate Charities Services. (For information, visit
  • The Charities Registration Board is an independent body that decides whether specific charities should be registered or deregistered.
  • Inland Revenue decides whether a registered charity qualifies for tax-exempt status.
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