This page last updated: 4 November 12.05pm.

Annual Information Statement submissions

Some charities and businesses are already working from home, or are undertaking activities that see them able to continue operating. Others will be required to cease operations while stage four restrictions are in place.

The impact on charities will vary greatly depending on factors including:

  • where a charity operates
  • its ability to convene online meetings
  • if it can engage accounting services, and
  • its ability to meet its obligations by submitting its 2019 Annual Information Statement (AIS) before the due date.

We encourage charities to meet this due date, as deferring their AIS submission could cause delays in processing.

Reporting Jobkeeper payments

Note: Jobkeeper payments are included in determining your charity's size based on its revenue. They should be recorded as revenue from government in the financial information within your charity's Annual Information Statement. Record jobkeeper payments in your charity's financial information in the way you would record any financial assistance from government. For more about jobkeeper payments, including eligibility, contact the ATO.

Deferral of AIS submission

The ACNC Commissioner has the discretion to defer when charities must submit 'approved forms', including the AIS.

The Commissioner will exercise this discretion if it is fair and reasonable, or if there is a genuine need to do so, taking into account a charity’s individual circumstances. For example, this might include where circumstances beyond a charity's control see it unable to submit its AIS by the due date.

Any request to defer a charity's AIS submission date must be in writing and from a charity's authorised person - for example, a primary contact or Responsible Person.

For the request to be considered, it must also include:

  • the reason for the delay in submission (which must be circumstances beyond the charity’s control) , and
  • the new AIS due date being requested

Written requests must be sent to advice@acnc.gov.au before the due date.

Obligations to other regulators

Charities with obligations to another state or territory regulator (for example, incorporated associations) seeking an extension of time to submit their AIS must also check with their state or territory regulator for information about that regulator's requirements.

A list of state and territory regulators can be found on the ACNC site.

webinar icon View a recording of our March webinar: 'Charities, the ACNC and COVID-19'.

In recognition of the unique challenges brought about by COVID-19, the ACNC Commissioner has decided that the ACNC change its approach to certain breaches of the Governance Standards and the External Conduct Standards that occur from 25 March until 31 December 2020.

The ACNC believes this short-term position is appropriate to allow charities to operate effectively and to enhance public trust and confidence in the sector.

Read the full explanation of the changes to the ACNC’s approach to certain breaches of the Governance Standards and the External Conduct Standards.

alert icon The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has established a central dedicated webpage for charities and not-for-profits to access ATO COVID-19 support and information.

This includes information on the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure and the Jobkeeper payments.

Visit the support page on the ATO website. And information about these initiatives is also included in the section below.

The ATO has also set in place additional support during COVID-19 for not-for-profits having difficulties meeting their tax and super obligations.

Boosting Cash Flow for Employers

The Federal Government's Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure includes support for eligible charities to manage cash flow and retain employees.

The measure will benefit around 30,000 not-for-profits - including charities.

JobKeeper payment

The Government has extended the JobKeeper Payment scheme. Visit the ATO website for details about changes.

The Federal Government's JobKeeper measure aims to provide wage subsidies to eligible businesses and not-for-profits, including charities, that are significantly affected by COVID-19.

Support is directed to employers who, in turn, pass it on to employees.

The following links provide guidance material for JobKeeper rule changes for child care providers effective from 20 July 2020:

Changes to ancillary fund guidelines

The Federal Government has announced amendments to the ministerial guidelines for public and private ancillary funds to 'provide a credit for funds that make total distributions in financial years 2019-20 and 2020-21 that are at least four percentage points above the minimum required distributions'.

The credit may be used to reduce the minimum distribution by up to one percentage point in 2021-22 and future financial years until the credit is exhausted.

The amendments aim to encourage ancillary funds to increase their granting during this time.

COVID-19 pandemic declared a disaster - implications for Australian disaster relief funds

The Federal Government has declared the COVID-19 pandemic a disaster for the purpose of establishing Australian disaster relief funds as deductible gift recipients (DGRs), allowing them to receive tax-deductible donations.

Donations to Australian disaster relief funds will now be tax deductible when made within two years of the day specified in this declaration as the first day of the event.

Disaster relief funds will need to apply for formal endorsement as a DGR fund with the ATO. This requires charity registration with the ACNC.

Superannuation guarantee amnesty

The ATO's superannuation guarantee amnesty concludes on 7 September.

Not-for-profit employers or their agents may have received a recent reminder explaining that, in order to receive the benefits of the amnesty, Superannuation guarantee statements are required to be lodged even if payment cannot be made.

We can work with them to set up a payment arrangement if the amnesty is relevant to their circumstances.

Visit the ATO's superannuation guarantee amnesty page for more information.

Further information

The ACNC's Governance Standard 2 requires a charity to be ‘accountable to members’. One common way in which a charity can do this is through AGMs and other meetings.

An option at this time may be to hold meetings remotely via video or phone conference. If you charity is considering this, read our tips for holding meetings remotely to assist.

If a charity is unable to hold its meetings at this time due to government requirements on physical distancing, the ACNC recommends the charity to:

  • advise or consult with members on the reasons for the postponement
  • document the reason why the meeting did not occur or could not occur digitally
  • use alternative ways to communicate the information that it would have provided at that meeting to members
  • schedule a future date for the meeting (even if this has to be amended again later).

If your charity believes it might need to delay or postpone its AGM, it may need to check information with its state or territory regulator (for incorporated associations) for further guidance on the requirements.

Companies

More information on ASIC's approach to AGMs.

Hold meetings in accordance with your governing document.

Charities regulated by ORIC

More information on the Office of the Registrar for Indigenous Corporations' approach to AGMs.

ACT incorporated AssociationMore information on Access Canberra's approach to AGMs.
NSW incorporated Association

More information on Fair Trading NSW's approach to AGMs.

NT incorporated AssociationCharities should contact Licencing NT directly.
Qld incorporated AssociationMore information on Office of Fair Trading Queensland's approach to AGMs.
SA incorporated AssociationMore information on Consumer & Business Services' approach to AGMs.
Tas incorporated AssociationCharities can contact Consumer, Building and Occupational Services for support.
Vic incorporated AssociationMore information on Consumer Affairs Victoria's approach to AGMs.
WA incorporated AssociationMore information on Consumer Protection WA's approach to AGMs.

Some charity operations may be affected by COVID-19.

We know that your charity's priority is to keep its beneficiaries, staff and volunteers safe. This may mean that some or all of your charity's activities may need to be modified or even temporarily halted; this is a reasonable course of action for charities to take.

It is important your charity keeps records of changes it makes to its operations as a result of COVID-19 impacts, and keeps everyone informed of what it is doing, and why.

Regular communication about your charity's changed activities should be a priority. Some charities may be able to offer their programs through online channels.

guides icon We have updated our guidance on record-keeping to include more information on keeping records if working remotely or from home.

Importantly, if your charity's operations do change, it is important it remains consistent with its charitable purpose. Your charity's purpose is what it was set up to achieve. Some people also refer to this as their charity's mission. Your charity can have more than one charitable purpose.

webinar icon View a recording of our July webinar: 'Managing charity money in the wake of COVID-19'.

Each charity needs to consider how COVID-19 impacts their financial operations. These can include:

  • Considering the use of reserves (see the section on charity reserves, below)
  • Assessing their eligibility for the Federal Government's stimulus packages, any state or territory packages, or any other grants and how receipt of these may impact other funding.
  • Considering any other financial assistance available (for example, business relief packages from banks or financial institutions)
  • Assessing future cash flows and doing a forecast - or adjusting their forecast - in light of current events.
  • Speaking to funders about the effects of cancelling or delaying activities that are part of funding agreements.
  • Knowing fixed costs and when they will need to be paid. Also, not committing to any more expenditure if possible.
  • Reviewing existing liabilities (for example, exploring options with banks or financial institutions, including deferring loan repayments if applicable).

Responsible Persons should speak to their charity's accountant and auditor in preparation of budgets, forecasts and financial statements.

Note that JobKeeper and Cashflow Boost payments do not constitute grants for the purposes of determining whether a charity is a Basic Religious Charity under s205-35 of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (Cth).

If waiting for the JobKeeper payment presents cash flow difficulties, businesses (including charities) may want to discuss their options with their bank. Banks have indicated that businesses may be able to use the upcoming JobKeeper payment as a basis to seek credit so they can pay their employees while awaiting the scheme's first payments. More from the Australian Bankers Association.

The ACNC understands that many charities will be concerned about their financial position if their income sources change or their services need to increase.

A charity may want to draw on its reserves to stay afloat at this time.

It is vital that a charity's Responsible Persons consider whether drawing on reserves is the best option (in addition to any support the charity may be entitled to from the Federal Government's stimulus package) along with other options - for example, delaying or postponing some non-essential activities and projects.

A charity's Responsible Persons should also be aware of any restrictions on the use of reserves. And there should be proper records that document any debate or decision to draw on charity reserves.

For a charity that has decided to cancel or postpone a fundraising event due to concerns over COVID-19, there may be questions raised over what to do with any money already committed (for example, through ticket sales or other purchases).

In these situations, it is important that a charity is transparent about what it is going to do:

  • Will the money be refunded - either immediately or in time?
  • Can the money be refunded - are there any legal issues preventing this happening?
  • Will the charity hold the money until the fundraiser is rescheduled?
  • Will the charity commit the money towards a future event or effort?

Whatever the charity decides to do, it is important that it documents the decision and communicates clearly with supporters and other stakeholders the reasons why it made the decision, as well as the measures it has in place to ensure the funds are properly refunded or used in line with donors' original intent and the charity's charitable purpose.

Charities that are continuing to fundraise should be mindful of current social distancing protocols and other limitations. Charities may also want to consider alternative ways to raise funds, such as online appeals.

Information from other organisations

A number of other organisations and websites have additional information specifically related to COVID-19 that may be of assistance.

Charity operations and governance

Financial reporting

Other regulators

Financial support and fundraising

Note that for the purposes of banking, many charities are often classed as small-medium businesses. This means they may be eligible for support provided to small or medium business. Contact your bank or financial institution to find out more.

    Further health related information

    Stay up to date on developments relating to COVID-19 by visiting the Federal Department of Health website, as well as State and Territory government websites: