At present there is no single definition of charity across Australia. In addition to the common law definitions, the terms ‘charity’, ‘charitable purpose’ and ‘charitable status’ occur in 172 pieces of Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation, of these Acts, 45 of them define these terms.

Ahead of the Tax Institute’s 16th Annual States’ Taxation Conference held in Darwin in July 2016, the ACNC prepared a paper discussing the implications of moving to a new model whereby there would be a single definition of charity.

The ACNC’s paper surveyed the existing definitions in each jurisdiction and then proposes that the ACNC could instead use a single definition to make all charity determinations. The paper also assesses the impact of this proposed model on the Australian community, the charities themselves and relevant local, state, territory and federal government agencies engaged in charity regulation.

ACNC Assistant Commissioner, David Locke, presented the paper at the conference.

“I’d like to thank the Tax Institute for the opportunity to put forth and discuss a model of regulation that would have significant benefits to the charity sector,” Mr Locke said.

“The ACNC has prepared this paper and engaged in this discussion to promote the reduction of unnecessary regulatory obligations – which is an Object of the ACNC Act.

“We will continue to work with our colleagues in the Commonwealth Government, and state and territory regulators, to find red tape reduction opportunities.”

Download the ACNC's paper: A common charity definition?
(Adobe PDF File 1.0MB)