By Pat Mullins

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) is the new national regulator overseeing the not-for-profit (NFP) sector across all states and territories. The ACNC establishes a regulatory framework within which it is anticipated that all registered charitable bodies will eventually operate.

Public register

The ACNC has created a searchable register of Australian charities aiming to promote greater transparency within the sector. Initially only charities will be required to register with a view to extending the process to not-for-profit organisations in the future.

While registering a charity is not compulsory only those organisations that do register will be eligible to apply for specific Commonwealth tax concessions as well as other legislative benefits. (See s15-5(3) and s15-5(4) of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (Cth))

Reporting framework and compliance with regulatory obligations

Once a charity has been registered compliance with certain reporting obligations must be maintained.

Registered charities must:

  • keep accurate records
  • submit annual reports to the ACNC and
  • inform the ACNC of changes to certain details

The ACNC is currently consulting with the NFP sector on the drafting of governance and conduct standards with plans to make these standards operational by 1 July 2013.

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.