NEWS ATO to check do­na­tions to Izzy’s church

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - JAMIE PANDARAM

THE Aus­tralian Tax­a­tion Of­fice will mon­i­tor do­na­tions given to Israel Fo­lau’s church to as­sess whether the money is used to fund his ex­pected le­gal chal­lenge against Rugby Aus­tralia.

Wealthy back­ers of Fo­lau are keen to fi­nan­cially sup­port the sacked Wal­la­bies star if he takes RA to the Supreme Court or Fed­eral Court to over­turn the ter­mi­na­tion of his $4 mil­lion con­tract.

But there are con­cerns back­ers could chan­nel the money through Fo­lau’s church, The Truth Of Je­sus Christ Church in Ken­thurst, in order to also claim the do­na­tion as a tax de­duc­tion.

Such a sce­nario would mean the Aus­tralian tax­payer would be partly fund­ing Fo­lau’s le­gal case, which could cost in ex­cess of $1 mil­lion.

The Sun­day Ter­ri­to­rian is not sug­gest­ing the Fo­lau fam­ily or the church would be in­volved in any il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity.

“En­dorsed in­come tax ex­empt or­gan­i­sa­tions are re­quired at all times to com­ply with their gov­ern­ing rules and ap­ply their in­come and as­sets solely for the pur­pose for which they are es­tab­lished,” an ATO spokesman said.

“As a mat­ter of course, the ATO ac­tively con­sid­ers and as­sesses in­for­ma­tion that sug­gests in­di­vid­u­als or en­ti­ties may not be act­ing in ac­cor­dance with their obli­ga­tions. Where, as a re­sult of an as­sess­ment, the ATO forms a view that it is nec­es­sary to take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion, we will do so.”

The 30-year-old said on Fri­day he was “con­sid­er­ing my op­tions”, af­ter the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment he’d been sacked for a re­li­gious In­sta­gram post on April 10 deemed as vil­i­fy­ing the gay com­mu­nity. Fo­lau is ag­grieved that his pro­fes­sional ca­reer has been ended by re­pro­duc­ing Bi­b­li­cal ma­te­rial, which he feels is re­li­gious per­se­cu­tion.

A closed code of con­duct hear­ing heard from Fo­lau that he was never told specif­i­cally what he could and could not post on so­cial me­dia, which was dis­puted by RA chief ex­ec­u­tive Rae­lene Cas­tle, who says nu­mer­ous con­ver­sa­tions with Fo­lau made it clear he could not pub­lish any­thing that could be con­sti­tuted as vil­i­fi­ca­tion against gay peo­ple.

Fo­lau is un­der­stood to be an­gered by the code of con­duct process and some of Cas­tle’s com­ments to the me­dia af­ter an­nounc­ing his sack­ing.

While Fo­lau does not in­ten­tion­ally want to harm rugby he is also adamant that his re­li­gious free­dom has been im­pinged.

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