Submissions closed on 2 May 2014, to the Senate committee
considering the repeal of the Australian Charities and
Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 and the content of new
legislation to replace it.
There is divided opinion amongst the Not-for-profit and Charity
Sector as to whether Australian Charities and Not-for-profits
Commission (ACNC) should be maintained in part or disbanded
completely: in particular views diverge on whether the regulatory
role it was to adopt be returned to the Australian Taxation Office
(ATO) (for tax exemptions and deductible gift recipient status) and
to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) (for
corporate governance issues).
The performance of the ACNC in its first 18 months of operation
has been efficient and educational. The first major deadline for
all charities was 31 March 2014 by which date those with an
accounting period ending 30 June 2013 were obliged to lodge their
first annual information statements (AIS). Many charities have met
this deadline though some have not.
In early April, the ACNC website contained a large prompt for
any charities which have missed the deadline to remind them to
rectify that situation. Presently there are many easy links on the
site to provide this assistance.
To follow up missing AIS's, the ACNC's approach will be
gentle initially, with issue of reminder letters sent to the
address for service which the ACNC holds, but after a period of
time, the ACNC will resort to enforcement remedies available under
its Act, the most extreme being deregistration.
Any Charity which is unsure how to complete its annual
information statement or whether it needs to do so now, may contact
us for assistance.
In the repeal of the existing legislation there is a risk that
the replacement law will not contain some concessions which
presently apply (eg the exemptions for basic religious charities,
acceptance of substituted accounting periods and acceptance of
simpler accounting records).
Arguably an advantage of retaining the ACNC and its personnel is
that a group of individuals with particular charity law knowledge
are now constituted as a team who have worked well together for at
least 2 years. If those personnel are disbanded, the gathered
skills will disperse and the ATO and ASIC whose roles are far
broader than the management of charities, may not give the same
priority to charities that the ACNC was appearing to provide.
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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