Ask ACNC regional sessions

Susan Pascoe, Our Commissioner

Next month, the ACNC will be travelling to regional Australia to conduct information sessions to guide charities on the Annual Information Statement process and answer any questions the organisations might have. The sessions were originally scheduled for earlier this year, but were deferred as Government consultation about the ACNC was scheduled for the same time.

We will be travelling primarily to areas where there has been a low level of submissions of Annual Information Statements, or a high number of charities we have not been able to contact through the ACNC’s ‘Return to Sender’ project. ACNC staff will be on hand to answer any questions charities have and assist with completing their statements. More details about the sessions and their locations is available on the ACNC website.

Annual Information Statements exceed 40 000

A big thank you to the more than 40 000 charities who have submitted their 2013 Annual Information Statement, the first year charities have had to report.

Charities with a reporting period of 1 January – 31 December were required to lodge their 2013 Annual Information Statement by 30 June 2014. While the deadline has passed for most charities to lodge their 2013 statement, the ACNC urges charities who have not lodged to do so as soon as they can.

At the time of writing nearly 40 500 Annual Information Statements have been lodged with the ACNC, equating to an 80 per cent compliance rate by active charities. We know from international experience that this is an extraordinary feat for the first year of operation. It reflects well on the commitment of charities to be transparent and to provide information for the public to access.

By lodging the Annual Information Statement, charities provide the ACNC with key information including the charity’s size, location and beneficiaries. This information is published on the Charity Register – Australia’s first free publicly available and credible charity register. The Register helps to build public trust and confidence in the charity sector because information about charities is publicly available in a “one-stop” shop.

The improved transparency of a national register has had a very positive impact on the sector and the ACNC has seen numerous examples of charities who have updated their governing documents or reviewed their financial management practice since the establishment of the ACNC.

From the perspective of the community, it helps to identify if a charity is bona fide, or a scam. The register also helps community members with information on which to base decisions regarding volunteering or donating, and grant makers with data when awarding grants.

Consistent with our regulatory approach, charities that have missed their reporting deadlines will receive final reminders prior to any penalties being applied. Charities do need to know that if they fail to lodge their return they could be liable for a penalty and may lose their tax concessions.

ACNC to revoke charities not in contact with us

Over the coming weeks, the ACNC will begin revoking 255 charities we have been unable to reach. These charities were part of the “Return to Sender” project, an exercise to give integrity to the national Charity Register and the list of registered charities provided by the Australian Tax Office when the ACNC first commenced operation.

After being revoked, the charities will no longer have access to their charity tax concessions, which are administered by the ATO.

The Return to Sender list has been successful in identifying many charities that are no longer operating, allowing the ACNC to update it Register accordingly. However there are still some 3 000 charities the ACNC has not been able to contact, despite exhaustive searching. The list is available at www.acnc.gov.au/findacharity. We encourage you to look through the list and contact us if you believe one of these charities is still operational.

National Standard Chart of Accounts

The National Standard Chart of Accounts (NSCOA) has been updated and is now available on the ACNC website. NSCOA is a data entry tool and data dictionary for not-for-profits, including charities. The ACNC is also please to advise MYOB has given approval for its accounts and descriptions to be included in NSCOA.

All Australian governments (Commonwealth, state and territory) have agreed to accept NSCOA when requesting information from not-for-profits. While NSCOA is not compulsory, there are benefits in using it and is part of the ACNC’s reducing red tape initiatives. Among the benefits are: providing a common approach to the recording and reporting of accounting information; reducing the time and cost of preparing financial statements; providing a consistent approach to preparing financial information for reporting to multiple jurisdictions and the flexibility to be adapted to each not-for-profit’s unique situation.

We look forward to meeting some of you face to face at forthcoming conferences and regional sessions.

Good wishes
Susan Pascoe AM
Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission

Contact us

Our phone number is 13 ACNC (13 22 62) or you can email us at advice@acnc.gov.au.

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