Wallabies star Israel Folau leaves a code of conduct hearing in Sydney on Tuesday, May 7.  Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP
Wallabies star Israel Folau leaves a code of conduct hearing in Sydney on Tuesday, May 7. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP JOEL CARRETT

Israel Folau: Plan may run afoul of church tax laws

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.

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

The Sunday Telegraph 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 told The Sunday Telegraph.

"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 his reproduction of Biblical material. He feels be is being religiously persecuted.

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 said numerous conversations with Folau made it clear he could not publish anything that could be constituted as vilification against gays.

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 much of the arguments in the code of conduct hearing will remain confidential, a legal case in the courts could expose many skeletons RA will hope to keep buried.

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

News Corp Australia


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