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An image of Sue Woodward AM

After extensive consultation and analysis, we have published our updated Commissioner’s Interpretation Statement: Public Benevolent Institutions.

Commissioner’s Interpretation Statements provide important guidance for charities and their advisers as they explain how the ACNC understands the law on key issues, as well as helping to guide ACNC decision-making.

Public Benevolent Institution is a sought-after charity subtype as it provides a gateway to charity tax benefits, including access to deductible gift recipient status (where donors can claim a tax deduction for their donation), and a fringe benefits tax exemption for charities with employees. We recognise that tax concessions are an important way that charities retain funds to do their charitable work.

The term Public Benevolent Institution is not defined in legislation, and our consultation highlighted differing views in the sector, including among advisers. This is why we have published the interpretation to help would-be applicants more accurately assess if they are likely to be eligible to be registered under this subtype.

The updated statement incorporates feedback from the consultations as well as reflecting the recent Administrative Appeals Tribunal decision about Equality Australia Ltd’s application for registration as a Public Benevolent Institution (noting that case is now on appeal but we don’t yet know when it will be heard).

We have published a compendium which summarises the feedback we received about our draft PBI statement and our response to it.

We also publish Decision Impact Statements outlining our view of the implications of court and tribunal decisions. A Statement on the Hunger Project has been published, replacing our Commissioner’s Interpretation Statement on this decision.

I am grateful to all those who made submissions – we received 28 written submissions – and participated in meetings and discussions that helped us arrive at the final document. It was a notable example of sector input and robust dialogue.

Sector feedback is critical to our work. The PBI CIS was just one of the issues we consulted about in the last year – other key issues included the best way for charities to report on related party transactions and how we can communicate most effectively with charities about our DGR reviews.

In the last financial year, we conducted 193 meetings or forums that involved charities, sector representatives or peak bodies. Personally, I made it an early priority to get out to sector events, such as key conferences, to meet people and present. I wanted to hear from the sector and reaffirm the ACNC’s commitment to charities, taking the opportunity to clarify misunderstandings about some issues, including confirming that charities can advocate.

On another note, I have recently returned from some annual leave, and I would like to thank Louise Clarke who acted for me during that time. I am glad to be back, and I am looking forward to the rest of the year, some exciting projects and delivering on our updated performance measures published in our corporate plan in July.

Warm regards,

Sue Woodward AM