Certainty for the charitable sector propels ACNC progress

The Government’s announcement earlier this month about the retention of the ACNC has provided welcome certainty to both ACNC staff and the broader charitable sector.

It has been gratifying since then to be able to interact with charities, professional advisers, peak groups and government bodies, knowing that the future of the ACNC is certain. Together we have been collaborating to make improvements for charities and the broader not-for-profit sector.

Uncertainty around our future had made it difficult to make progress on initiatives such as red tape reduction where cooperation with other agencies is required. However, now we are well placed to make progress. The extension to transitional reporting arrangements, which I announced in my previous column, is just a small part of our red tape reduction efforts. There is a range of other exciting measures on which we are making progress which I hope to be able to announce soon.

1269 lose charity status

Last week the ACNC revoked the charity status of 1269 charities for failing to complete two Annual Information Statements despite multiple reminders from the ACNC. These charities will receive official notice of their status revocation in the coming days and a list will be available at acnc.gov.au/doubledefaulters

As a consequence of losing ACNC charity status, these charities will lose access to Commonwealth charity tax concessions, including deductible gift recipient status, income tax exemption, Fringe Benefits Tax rebates, and Goods and Services Tax concessions. The Australian Taxation Office will be in contact with these charities in the near future to finalise these arrangements. These charities may now be required to submit an income tax return for their organisations and pay tax on the income they make.

If these charities want to remain registered with the ACNC, they need to contact the ACNC as a matter of urgency and submit all their outstanding Annual Information Statements and (if required) financial reports.

I am pleased to note that out of the 2431 that were notified last month, 1162 submitted their outstanding statements. This is a significant number and I would like to acknowledge these charities for understanding the seriousness of this process and correcting matters. I wish them well as they continue to deliver important services to our community.

It’s also important to recognise that some of the charities that had their statuses revoked last week may simply have ceased operations. This is not unusual, but I would like to remind charities about proper winding up procedures which include formally notifying the ACNC. We have guidance on this at acnc.gov.au/windup

This process is also a reminder of the importance of ensuring your charity’s address for service details are up-to-date.

It is critical we have the correct and up-to-date details of your charity so we can provide timely reminders about your obligations. You can check your charity’s address for service details on your charity’s Register listing on the Charity Register.

Webinar for new charities

Every year, while many charities cease operating and lose their charity status, new organisations form to meet community needs.

Our next webinar on 5 April is for these newly registered charities. Charities can register at acnc.gov.au/webinars

Are there too many charities?

Whether or not there are too many charities in Australia is a persistent topic of discussion in the media and among those with an interest in the sector. I am regularly asked to comment on this topic and I have written about it in my Huffington Post blog. I think it is appropriate to briefly revisit this topic, given the recent charity revocations and the webinar we have planned for new charities next month.

Interestingly, Australia has proportionally fewer charities than other countries. Based on the experiences of charity regulators overseas, we expect that each year as we register new charities, a similar number will simply cease operating.
Since our establishment we have also done a lot of work to ‘clean up the register’ and revoke organisations that are no longer operating.

The ACNC is aware of the debate around the number of charities, and the benefits for some of consolidating their operations, or cooperating with others in tendering and service delivery, or sharing back office services – these efficiencies are likely to be beneficial to many charities. Charities should avoid duplicating services offered by others. However the ACNC is equally aware of the nearly one in three charities with revenue under $50,000 per annum, operating in every part of this vast continent, and of the important contributions they make to the welfare and vitality of local communities. Each charity is unique, and each charity board needs to carefully consider their impact and their efficiency.

If you are interested, I encourage you to read by Huffington Post blog on this topic.

I wish everyone a safe and restful Easter break.Good wishes,

Susan Pascoe AM

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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