Religious institutions: access to tax concessions

Registered religious institutions may be entitled to access the following tax concessions:

  • income tax exemption
  • fringe benefits tax (FBT) concessions
  • goods and services tax (GST) concessions.

If your organisation is a religious institution, this will help you to determine the requirements for accessing tax concessions.

Find out about:

What is a religious institution?

Your organisation is a religious institution if it is:

  • not-for-profit
  • an institution to advance or promote religious purposes
  • and the beliefs and practices of members constitute a religion. Religion involves:
    • a belief in a supernatural being, thing or principle
    • the acceptance of canons of conduct that give effect to that belief.

Examples of religious institutions include:

  • churches and other religious congregations
  • missionary institutions
  • seminaries and bible colleges.


An institution can have different legal forms. It may be a trust established by will or instrument of trust. It may have the legal structure of an unincorporated association or a corporation.

However, incorporation is not enough on its own for an organisation to be an institution. Its activities, size, permanence and recognition will be relevant.

An institution is not:

  • a fund – for example, a trust merely to manage or hold trust property to make distributions to other entities or people
  • a structure with a small and exclusive membership that is controlled and operated by family members and friends and carries out limited activities.

Example: Not an institution

A corporation is set up and controlled by the small and exclusive membership of a family. Its object is to spread the gospel. The only activities are holding assets and arranging for the father of the family to speak at churches on some Sundays.

The corporation is not an institution.

End of example
    Last modified: 12 Oct 2016QC 35223