As readers will have no doubt learnt by now, the Federal Government is committed to abolishing the new third sector regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) (established in late 2012 by the Gillard Labor government), and repealing the Charities Act 2013 (Cth) which commenced on 1 January 2014.
It has been reported that the Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews intends to introduce a bill into parliament on 19 March which is intended to achieve the above.
The National Centre for Excellence (NCE), which the Government proposes will replace the ACNC, is likely to be modelled on the US Charity Navigator model. The Charity Navigator, itself a not-for-profit, is a kind of ratings agency for charities.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
For charities, the responsibility for determining charitable status and entitlement to the federal tax concessions will remain with the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will continue to regulate companies in the sector that are limited by guarantee.
According to the Minister, abolishing the ACNC will remove an "unnecessary and ponderous compliance burden on the sector" and the new NCE will "transfer the focus from coercive compliance and regulation to collaborative education, training and development". He has stated that the ultimate aim is to transfer ownership of the NCE to the sector itself.
Of course, every reputable charity will want to be part of the NCE when it is established and therefore, in practical terms, the types of disclosure and compliance actions that readers were getting used to under the ACNC are likely to be the same under the NCE – it will just not be mandatory.
We note the Government failed just prior to Christmas last year to delay the commencement of the statutory definition of charity in the Charities Act, so we will keep you updated as to the passage of this abolition legislation through the parliament.
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.