Taxpayers have been subsidising the activities of the Agape doomsday cult for a decade, tax records show.
Agape Ministries International was granted charity organisation tax breaks from July 2000 by the Tax Office.
It was stripped of the status last month after police raided its properties around Adelaide and seized 15 allegedly illegal firearms and other weapons.
The issue of the cult’s charity status was raised by an anonymous tip-off to a Senate inquiry into legislation, proposed by SA senator Nick Xenophon, which aims to force religious groups to prove what public benefit they provide before being granted tax breaks.
Senator Xenophon introduced the legislation following allegations against the Church of Scientology including coerced abortions, false imprisonment stalking, harassment and extortion.
He said the Agape cult had been enjoying tax breaks for 10 years which showed why it should have to prove that it provided benefits to the public before the Australian Taxation Office granted it charitable institution status.
Under ATO rules, as a “charitable institution”, Agape Ministries International was granted numerous GST concessions, including the first $150,000 of turnover being GST free.
ATO documents show the cult was registered as a charitable institution until May 27, seven days after police raided the group’s 12 properties.