New Zealand is a society built on volunteerism – I’m involved in a number of voluntary organisations, as a fire fighter, a paramedic, a board member and an advisor. All of this I do primarily for altruistic reasons. Altruism however is different from charity and I tend to shy away from roles where I need to donate more than just my time and skills.
I was amazed to read this morning that the Inland Revenue Department is taxing mileage reimbursements for voluntary workers while leaving mileage reimbursements for employees untaxed. To give an example;
Jim is a voluntary committee member, as part of his duties he is asked to attend a course away from home. He is paid a reimbursement for his mileage which the IRD tax
Joan is an employee of an organisation, she also has to attend the same course and is paid a mileage reimbursement. As an employee however her reimbursement is tax free!
Is it just me or is this bizarre?