The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission
(ACNC) commenced on 3 December 2012.
The ACNC establishes a national regulatory system that promotes
good governance, accountability and transparency for the Australian
Initially the ACNC will focus on charities by, among other
determining charity status for all Australian Government
maintaining a charity register
determining whether a charity is a public benevolent
institution or health promotion charity.
As its name indicates, the long term view is that the ACNC will
expand its responsibility to all not-for-profit organisations in
Australia. There is no publicised date for when this will occur,
but it will be after 1 July 2014.
It is also anticipated the ACNC will work with the states and
territories to harmonise the reporting requirements of the
What happened on 3 December – who is already
registered with the ACNC?
Entities that were endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office as
income tax exempt charities on 2 December 2012 (approximately
56,553 entities) were automatically registered with the ACNC from 3
Should all not-for-profits be registered with the
While registration with the ACNC is voluntary, it is necessary
in many respects to maintain tax concessions.
Registration also means that the entity is subject to
legislation that places obligations on the entity and brings it
within the ACNC's regulatory powers.
What should not-for-profit entities do now?
All not-for-profit entities, including private and public
ancillary funds, should find out if they have been automatically
registered with the ACNC and determine if this is appropriate for
Whether or not it is appropriate to be registered with the ACNC
will most likely turn on whether it is necessary for the entity to
continue to receive tax concessions.
If registration is not necessary, the entity should consider the
reporting and other obligations and benefits that come with being
registered with the ACNC and whether this is appropriate for the
Depending upon what is appropriate for the entity, it should opt
in or out of the ACNC's regulations as appropriate.
Entities registered or intending to be registered with the ACNC
check what information is on the ACNC register about the entity
to ensure it is accurate and appropriate for a publically
determine if they are a:
small charity (annual revenue of less than $250,000)
medium charity (annual revenue of $250,000 or more but less
large charity (annual revenue of $1,000,000 or more)
determine if they fall within a designation in the legislation
that affords them an exemption from certain obligations, for
example, basic religious charities or non-government schools
consider their current reporting financial year and apply to
the ACNC to change it if it is not 1 July to 30 June
be aware of the requirements for preparation and lodgement of
annual information statements and financial reports as it applies
if there are numerous related entities in a group, consider if
they should apply to collectively report to the ACNC
ensure adequate financial and operational records are kept that
comply with the new regime
review the governance and external conduct standards when they
are publicised by the ACNC and ensure the entity's governing
documents, policies, procedures and operations comply and if not,
be familiar with what government departments to report to, what
to report and when to report
most importantly, be familiar with the key dates set out in the
Not all matters relevant to entities registered with the ACNC
are reported only to the ACNC therefore an entity should be
familiar with their reporting requirements to the ACNC and also
other government departments for example, state and territory
departments that regulate incorporated associations and fundraising
There is a current consultation paper titled 'development of
governance standards' in circulation. The closing date for
submissions is 15 February 2013.
click here to view a summary of the main key dates that all
not-for-profits should be aware of in relation to the introduction
of the ACNC.
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The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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