Transcript

April:

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s webinar. Today we’ll give you an insight into everything you need to know about completing the 2016 the Annual Information Statement.

For those of you who might be new to your role in a charity or have not lodged an Annual Information Statement before, this session will give you a great overview of what to expect.

My name is April Kitchenham and presenting with me today is my colleague Chris Riches and we are from the ACNC’s Education team. Welcome Chris.

Chris:

Hi everyone. Hi April.

April:

Just a couple housekeeping things to cover before we get underway.

First, if you have any troubles with the audio for the webinar you can try listening through your phone. You can call the number listed in the email you would have received upon sign up and put in an access code and listen to the webinar that way.

If you want to ask any questions during the webinar, you can do so at any time by using the tools in the GoToWebinar panel on your screen. We have our colleagues Matt and Nathan on hand and they are ready to answer any questions as they come through.

We will try to respond to every question that comes in but – depending on the quantity – we may not be able to get to every single one. If you do ask a question and it isn’t answered, don’t worry – we do keep a record of all the questions asked and we will endeavour to respond by email in the hours after the webinar is over.

Alternatively, if your question isn’t answered, please feel free to send it to us an email and we’ll always get back to you.

We will also allow for a quick Q&A session at the end of the presentation, so if you wanted to watch the presentation before asking your question, that’s fine.

We are recording the webinar today and will publish the recording – including a copy of the transcript and the presentation slides – on the ACNC website in the coming days. So if you need to take off early, or if you miss something, you can always come back and watch it again later.

You also don’t need to write down all the website references that we mention throughout the webinar today, as we’ll include those in the follow-up email that we will send to you following the session.

Finally, we really value your feedback. If you have any suggestions for ways we can improve our webinars, please let us know in the short survey at the end of the webinar, or drop us a line via email.

OK, so that’s all the admin stuff out of the way. I’ll hand you over to Chris to officially kick us off.

Chris:

Thanks April.

Today’s webinar will focus on completing the 2016 Annual Information Statement, or AIS, as we’ll refer to it throughout the session.

We’re going to look at a few elements of the process. First up we’ll explain what the AIS is and what charities need to report on as part of the process.

We’ll look at when the AIS is due – just quickly, for charities on a calendar year reporting period, their AIS is due on or before 30 June, which is next Friday.

Importantly we’ll work through how to submit the AIS through the ACNC’s Charity Portal, and the information you’ll need on hand to help complete your AIS.

We will provide an overview of each section of the AIS so you know what to expect, as well as highlight common mistakes people make when doing their AIS (and how to avoid them).

Finally, we will detail some of the actions the ACNC can take if a charity fails to submit its AIS.

But before we look at what might happen if you don’t submit your AIS, let’s firstly work through the material to help your charity do the right thing and submit its Statement to us on time!

April:

So, what is the AIS?

In short, the AIS is an online form which asks questions about a charity’s operations and finances.

It asks for both financial and non-financial information. Non-financial questions in the AIS cover:

  • Your charity activities – which is basically what your charity does;
  • Your beneficiaries – the people, groups and communities your charity seeks to help;
  • Operating locations – where you work from, and the geographical areas you work in, as well as details about your staff and volunteers, and;
  • Governing documents, Responsible Persons and subtypes – key information about how your charity operates and who is in charge … the AIS asks charities to ensure this information is up-to-date.

The AIS also asks questions about your charity’s finances – so that’s questions about your revenue and income, assets, liabilities and the like.

For medium and large charities, the level of financial reporting required through the AIS is a little more detailed. They are also required to submit a financial report with their AIS. We’ll cover this aspect of reporting in more detail further into this webinar.

Remember, though, the AIS is something which all registered charities must submit for every reporting period. The only exception to this is for charities which, well, have an official exception!

That exception covers charities registered with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, or ORIC. And while those charities aren’t required to report to the ACNC, they still need to report to ORIC.

Chris:

The AIS’s due date can differ depending on the charity. This is because charity reporting periods – the dates to which they report internally ­– can vary.

Two of the more common reporting periods, and their corresponding AIS due dates, are outlined on the slide.

Many charities report to the regular financial year (July to June). For those charities, their Annual Information Statement is due by 31 December.

A number of charities report to a calendar year, and for them, their AIS is due by 30 June – a situation many of you joining us for this webinar today are probably in!

As you can see, a charity must submit its AIS to us within six months of the end of its reporting period.

Sometimes the ACNC Commissioner might extend that deadline for a short period – for example, those charities which were required to submit their AIS by 31 December last year received a month’s extension due to the ACNC shutting down over the Christmas/New Year period, meaning those charities which wanted to contact us to receive help completing their AIS were not able to do so for a short period.

But for those charities which are due to submit their AIS by 30 June, there is not an extension in place … so you’ll need to ensure you get your reporting in to us by the deadline.

April:

If you are unsure of the reporting period you have recorded with the ACNC or when your charity’s AIS is due, there is an easy way to double-check.

Simply jump online and visit the ACNC’s Charity Register – Charity register. Once you’re in there, type in your charity’s name or its ABN and your charity’s listing will pop up.

On your listing page, scroll down to the ‘Annual Reporting’ section and you’ll see a table like that shown on screen. The table lists the due dates for your AIS (and, if applicable, your financial reports), as well as details on whether you’ve submitted those documents, and if so, when we received them.

It is a good idea, just before you start the AIS, to visit the Charity Register, look at your listing and ensure your reporting period is correct as this will affect when your AIS is due.

If you report to anything other than the standard July-June financial year, make sure that you have notified us of your correct reporting period. If it isn’t correct, log into the ACNC’s Charity Portal and update your information.

For more information about reporting due dates, visit the ACNC website at Reporting Due Dates.

Chris:

Now, the Charity Portal is also the place through which you submit your AIS. As we mentioned before, the AIS is an online form, not a physical, printed one.

It is accessed through the Charity Portal, which is part of the ACNC’s website.

Because it isn’t a physical form, you don’t have to wait for us to send you out a copy, and you don’t have to worry about lots of bits of paper … you can jump online at a time which suits you, work through the online form and then submit it – all in the one place.

There’s two or three main ways to navigate to the Charity Portal in order to access the AIS.

The first is to simply visit the ACNC’s home page and look for the purple tab labelled “Portal” near the top right-hand corner.

The second way is to look for the large purple “Submit the AIS” button on the right of the screen.

You can also type the Portal’s URL address directly into your browser – charity.acnc.gov.au. But however you access the Portal, you’ll end up in the same place.

April:

And this is what you’ll see once you’ve gone through any of those access points. This is the Charity Portal log-in page.

To log in, the first thing you’ll need to do is accept the terms and conditions of use. Once you’ve done so – by checking the little circular button highlighted in the first of the two red boxes on the screen there – you’ll be able to log in with your username and password.

Now, your charity’s username is its ABN – its Australian Business Number. That’s doesn’t change. Just make sure you type that in without any spaces between the numbers.

Your password, however, will be unique, but it also might be something which has been forgotten, misplaced, or not passed on to new committee members during changes to your charity’s board, committee or senior staff.

If you have forgotten your password, that’s ok, it’s easy to reset. The second red box you can see on the screen highlights a couple of links, one of which is a link to reset your password.

Clicking on that will take you through a short process which will see you receive a new password. It is pretty easy but if you need a hand you can always give us a call.

Chris:

Once you’ve logged into the Portal, you’ll arrive on the Portal’s home page. There’s all sorts of information and a number of links for you to look at.

To submit your Annual Information Statement, click on the green button on the left hand side which is highlighted on your screen. The button is rather sensibly labelled “Submit Annual Information Statement”. That’ll take you straight to the online AIS form.

Before we go on, it is worth having a quick look at the rest of the information and links on the page. On the left hand side there are quick links to help you change your charity details, or to change your charity’s Responsible Persons.

It is important to note that changing these things is not managed through your Annual Information Statement. So if you need to make these changes, please do so before you start filling in your AIS.

Elsewhere on the page there’s some useful general information for your charity, as well as a space nearer the centre of the page for alerts to appear.

If your charity has some overdue reporting, its records aren’t up to date – a missing governing document for example – an alert will appear here to let you know.

April:

So, you’re logged into the Charity Portal and you’re about to hit the “Submit Annual Information Statement” button. But before you hit that button, take a moment and check that you have at hand all the information you need to fill out the AIS quickly, easily and accurately.

To get this far you’ve obviously already used your Charity Portal username and password! So that’s the first thing you’ll need sorted.

Next thing to have at hand is the 2016 AIS Guide. Now that’s easy to find online – there’s a link to it from the 2016 Reporting page which we will show you in the next slide of this presentation. The Guide goes through the AIS questions in detail, providing extra information to help you respond.

It might be an idea to open up the guide and “page park” it in a separate tab in your browser for easy reference as you complete your AIS.

Other information you’ll need handy includes:

  • Your annual report or any project reports – they’ll help you answer questions about your charity’s work and purpose.
  • PAYG payment summaries – they will help you with questions about employee numbers.
  • Any funder, donor or grant acquittal reports
  • And of course, any financial documents – these include balance sheets or statements of financial positions, and statements of profit and loss or comprehensive income.

Chris:

This slide shows the 2016 Reporting page we referred to a couple of minutes ago.

You really can’t miss the prominent link to the Annual Information Statement, but those smaller links are all worth a look as well.

On the left below the purple “Submit your AIS” button, there’s a useful checklist which outlines in full the information and documentation you’ll need to complete your AIS.

Next to that is a link to a worksheet which allows you to draft some responses to questions before committing them to the online AIS form.

And lastly is that link to the 2016 AIS Guide we mentioned earlier … it is comprehensive, detailed and can be used if you are stuck on a question or unsure exactly what is being asked for.

April:

The final thing we’ll look at before launching into the AIS itself is just to highlight the information available via the “Manage My Charity” tab on the ACNC’s home page or the link mentioned on this slide – reporting.

The resources featured under the “Report Annually” option in that drop down menu go into detail about specific elements of charity reporting, the AIS, and various other links to information that can help you fill in the financial section of the Annual Information Statement.

We’ve taken a bit of time here to highlight all the support resources, guidance and information you need before you start. We’ve done this to ensure that you’re aware of what is available online to help you through the AIS submission process, and to ensure you’re armed with everything you need to allow you to fill in the AIS as quickly and easily as possible.

A stitch in time saves nine, as the old saying goes. Being well prepared before you start your work will help make the process far easier.

Chris:

So, onto the first section of the AIS Form, which asks you to confirm some basic information about your organisation – name, size, contact information, that sort of thing.

Relatively simple stuff, and better yet, most of these questions will be pre-filled if you have completed the AIS online in previous years.
Of course you can change these pre-filled responses if they aren’t accurate … and the information you enter into the 2016 AIS will help pre-populate the 2017 AIS Form!

This part of the Annual Information Statement also asks you to confirm your charity’s Address For Service. Please double-check this detail and ensure it is correct; your Address For Service is the ACNC’s primary contact point with your charity, and where we send notifications and other correspondence such as reminder letters and emails leading up to your AIS due date.

Other questions in this section will see you fill in your charity’s street address and provide details of your charity’s primary contact person – the person you wish the ACNC to contact in relation to matters about your charity.

You will be asked about the size of your charity based on its annual revenue for your most recent reporting period.

And the last question in this section asks if your charity has other purposes which do not fall under the category of “Advancing Religion”. More questions about your charity’s activities appear in Section B.

April:

Section B of the 2016 Annual Information Statement focusses on your charity’s activities ­– its work, operations and programs.

The first question in this section – Question 8 – asks whether your charity actually conducted any activities during the 2016 reporting period.

It is important to remember here that “activities” can be financial or non-financial, and to understand what we mean when we refer to “activities”.

We don’t look at activities as just those more traditional, very tangible things that a charity does – such as running a service for homeless people for example, or overseas aid work. Of course these types of charitable work in the field or on the street are indeed classed as activities.

But the ACNC also classes other work as activities – things like strategic planning, undertaking administrative work or even just employing staff … they are all activities as well.

As the slide states, the aim of this question is to identify inactive charities. Now, for all of you with us today, it is highly unlikely your charity will be inactive! So answering “yes” to this question is most likely the way to go.

But if you do answer “no,” you’ll be asked to explain why your charity didn’t conduct activities in the 2016 reporting period.

Chris:

Other questions in this section focus on your activities and beneficiaries.

This slide highlights Question 9, which asks charities about their activities during the 2016 reporting period.

As you can see, you will be asked to choose your charity’s main activity from a drop down list. This question is mandatory, and if you need help answering it there’s plenty of information in the 2016 AIS Guide to assist.

From the drop down menu, you should choose the category that best suits your charity’s main activity. Many charities have multiple main activities, which is where the next part of the question comes in; if your charity does have more than one main activity, you can select from the list below … you can see this on your screen.

The remaining questions in this section will ask you:

  • Where your charity conducted its activities – the locations, both within Australia and overseas, in which you did your work.
  • To describe how your charities activities and outcomes helped achieve its purpose – often your annual report will contain a great rundown you can use to respond here.
  • To state who your charity’s beneficiaries are – which general or specific section of the community your charity’s activities and programs helped.

When thinking about their beneficiaries, many charities will note they help a wide cross-section of the community. If that is the case, select the “general” option as your response, rather than the “specific” option.

April:

Onto Section C now, which asks charities about their very important human resources – those who work or volunteer for your charity.

The section is pretty straightforward, you’ll be asked to fill in the number of employees – both full and part time – and also your volunteers. Full-time employees are those who work 35 or more hours a week, while part timers work fewer than 35 hours a week.

Keep in mind that volunteers can be regular – people who help every day, week or month – or irregular. It is also important to remember that volunteers can include any unpaid board or committee members.

And if you’re not 100% sure of exact numbers, just have a think and give us your best estimate.

Chris:

Section D – Finance. This is the biggie in many ways – and it is a section of the form which has, in the past, seen charities make errors with their reporting.

Many of these errors are only minor – a missing figure somewhere, or even an incorrect number – but what happens is that charities identified as having made these mistakes have had to look over their AIS again, find and correct the errors, and then re-submit.

So we stress here how important it is for you to check, double-check and triple-check the information and figures you provide in this section. It’s really worth taking the time to get this correct now to make sure you don’t have to do this again later.

The questions in this section will vary depending on the size of your organisation. There are more questions in this section if your charity is medium or large, as the reporting requirements are greater.

April:

Questions in this section of the 2016 AIS are mandatory, except for a few specific types of charities – they include non-government schools (who participate in the non-government schools transitional reporting arrangement) and Basic Religious Charities.

Basic Religious Charities are a particular type of religious charity which is registered with the ACNC, and which meets several criteria.

There’s more information about Basic Religious Charities on our website.

Chris:

As we mentioned, the number and types of questions in the financial section of the 2016 AIS vary depending on your size. Small, medium and large. Now what is important to note is that the size of a charity is based on its annual revenue. As a reminder:

  • Small charities have an annual revenue of less than $250,000
  • Medium sized charities are those with revenue between $250,000 and $999,999
  • Large charities are those with annual revenue of $1 million or more.

April:

As Chris mentioned, the ACNC calculates size based on revenue. Revenue is the part of an organisation’s income which is created from the sale of goods or services, or any other use of capital or assets associated with the ordinary operations of your charity.

It can include things like:

  • grants from government, foundations or other organisations
  • any donations
  • any fees for services,
  • sale of goods, and
  • any interest earned on investments and dividends.

Revenue is usually shown among the top line items in an income profit and loss statement. If you have any specific questions about your charity size and revenue you can call us on 13 22 62, or email advice@acnc.gov.au and we can answer your questions.

April:

Revenue and charity size can be a bit tricky to calculate but there’s a really useful charity size calculator available at the Accounting for Good website which can help charities confirm whether they are small, medium or large.

So if you’re not sure, double-check and this tool is a good place to start.

Chris:

This slide provides a bit of a rundown of the financial information we require in your financial report as part of the 2016 AIS. For medium and large charities, submitting this information is mandatory; for small charities it is optional.

So for charities with no transitional reporting arrangements, the financial report for the reporting period includes:

  • a statement of profit or loss and other comprehensive income;
  • a statement of financial position;
  • of changes in equity;
  • and of cash flows.
  • It also includes notes to the financial statements;
  • as well as a Responsible Persons’ declaration about the statements and the notes – these must be signed and dated;
  • a reviewer’s report or auditor’s report – signed and dated (for medium charities)
  • an auditor's report – signed and dated (for large charities)

Again note that medium sized charities have the option of submitting a reviewer’s report or auditor’s report, while large charities must submit an auditor’s report.

Just to note here too – you’ll be asked to upload your financial report at this point (in the AIS). You can only upload one financial report or document in this section. If you have more than one document file, we would ask you to combine them into a single PDF document before you upload them.

Now you can look up how to combine documents into single PDF documents online. It is relatively easy to do and there are plenty of applications out there which will help you do it.

Now, the other thing is – anything that refers to “Responsible Persons” – in this case, the declaration about the statements and the notes – means that only a Responsible Person of your charity can provide this information.

From an ACNC perspective, a Responsible Person is member of the charity’s governing body – its committee or board. They are the people that sit on that governing body and direct the charity, and make decisions on behalf of the charity.

We have listed a couple of useful links to information about financial statements on the ACNC website, one of which is to a page containing useful templates covering a wide variety of purposes – including some of these financial reporting requirements. And the 2016 AIS Guide is another useful reference point.

April:

We touched earlier on the fact that the financial part of the AIS is often the section which sees many charities make errors.

The ACNC does check the information submitted in Annual Information Statements, including the financial information. It is vital that the information submitted by registered charities is accurate, correct, and error-free, particularly as this information is made available to the public on the Charity Register.

On the screen here we’ve compiled a quick list of tips to avoid the more common errors which charities have made in past AIS. We’ve also addressed a number of these common “problem areas” through improvements to the AIS Form – introducing things like auto-calculation for certain figures and continually refining the guidance and resources which support the AIS, so we should see less and less of these types of errors in the future.

But in the meantime, some of the main tips to avoid financial information errors include:

Firstly, know your charity size and the financial report type you are required to submit. If you’re a medium or large charity, ensure you provide all the financial information required.

If you think you are a Basic Religious Charity, double check. Get it right, assess yourself properly and if it turns out you aren’t a Basic Religious Charity, submit all the information you’re required to. Again, the ACNC does check the information you submit.

Double and triple check the financial information you enter in this section of the AIS. It might be a great idea to grab another person in your organisation and have them go through the figures before you hit “submit”; a second set of eyes can pick up any errors you may have overlooked – a missed figure or a typo.

And again, remember to submit your financial reports, including financial statements with all the bells and whistles which we went through a couple of minutes ago.

Chris:

As we just mentioned, the ACNC has worked hard to ensure our AIS and reporting guidance is clear, easy to understand and practical.

Our top 10 reporting tips are contained at Avoid making mistakes in your Annual Information Statement, while information about Basic Religious Charities is available at BasicReligiousCharity.

As you can see here, we have some great guidance specific to each charity size – small, medium and large. Visit Small Reporting, /Medium Reporting, or /Large Reporting – depending on the size of your charity - for this information.

April:

This slide here references some other guidance on more specific financial topics relevant to the 2016 AIS. Such as:

  • Information on cash and accrual accounting, which we ask about in the 2016 AIS
  • Information on special and general purpose financial statements
  • Information on the difference between a review and an audit, as well as the requirements to have one or the other.

Again, those links will be included in the follow-up email. If you are unsure about these elements of reporting, have a look at our resources and guidance and if you still have questions about your charity’s reporting or situation, feel free to give us a call on 13 22 62 or email advice@acnc.gov.au.

Chris:

Obviously we’ve talked a lot about your reporting requirements to the ACNC, but it is important to remember that many charities also have reporting requirements to other regulators and authorities.

Whether you need to report to other regulators might depend on your legal structure, where you are located or where you are operating.

Organisations which are structured as companies limited by guarantee might have obligations to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC); if you are an incorporated association you might have obligations to your state or territory regulator – Consumer and Business Affairs or Fair Trading, for example.

And those fundraising in some states and territories may still have to report to their “local” authorities as part of any fundraising permit they obtain.Generally, unless you are notified otherwise, the obligation you have to submit the AIS to the ACNC is in addition to any other obligations you might have to other regulators.

The good news is that the ACNC continues to make significant progress in streamlining these types of reporting obligations and to cut down on the multiple lots of reporting many groups in the sector have to complete.

A number of states and territories are coming on board with streamlined reporting arrangements covering fundraising, which is great. And there are other regulators we already have streamlined reporting arrangements with.

We briefly mentioned ORIC earlier in the webinar. If you are registered with ORIC – the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations – you can simply just continue to report to ORIC rather than submitting financial information to bot the ACNC and ORIC.

And for non-government schools that provide financial reports or a financial questionnaire to the Department of Education and Training, the ACNC will accept that report or questionnaire as meeting our financial reporting requirements.

April:

So now we move from the rather involved financial reporting in Section D of the 2016 AIS to Section E, which is far more straightforward and covers the other obligations your charity has to the ACNC.

This section of the AIS aims to ensure the details we hold for your charity are accurate and current.

This section asks about your charity’s governing document – that’s the formal document that sets out your charity’s rules and processes. You might know it as your constitution, rules or articles of association.

You will be asked to confirm whether the governing document you’ve supplied to the ACNC is current, and whether in fact you’ve supplied us with your governing document, because doing so is a requirement for a registered charity.

You also need to check if the Responsible Persons listed with the ACNC are accurate, and current. This is important because they can change regularly, and it is easy to overlook the need to update them with the ACNC.

If you’ve had a board meeting or an annual general meeting, and there has been a change in your board or committee, it might well mean that your charity’s Responsible Persons which are listed with the ACNC needs updating.

The third thing is to check your charity subtype. Charities are registered with the ACNC under particular subtypes – almost like a category or a type of charity which reflects the work you do. It’s worth checking that you have a charity subtype registered, and that it is still accurate.

Keep in mind, though, that Section E of the 2016 AIS doesn’t actually allow you to make changes to these details that you have listed with the ACNC.

If you do need to make a change you’ll need to return to the Charity Portal and manage your charity’s details from there. Via the Portal you can change these bits of information to ensure they are correct.

Chris:

Section AF of the 2016 AIS focusses on Ancillary Funds. This section probably won’t apply to many of you joining us for the webinar… in fact, it might not apply to anyone with us today!

If it doesn’t apply to you, you won’t see it when you are completing your AIS Form.

If it does apply to you, completing it will actually replace the requirement to lodge a separate Australian Taxation Office Ancillary Fund Return for 2016.

However, the information provided in Section AF is not for publication and will simply be forwarded to the ATO only.

April:

The last section of the 2016 Annual Information Statement is Section G, it just covers the Declaration which asks you to confirm that the information provided in your AIS is true and correct.

Before you sign it, just take the chance to double check all the details you’ve entered. Check the financial information again … perhaps even get someone else to double check and re-read it to ensure there are no errors.

Once you’re satisfied, check the Declaration Box, and hit that Submit button.

Making sure you submit the form at the end is also very important. There have been some charities that have done all the hard work, checked over everything, filled out everything, but have forgotten to hit Submit … then they’ve a received reminder email asking after their AIS and only at that point realised they hadn’t actually submitted it!

So again, make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the page and hit the Submit button.

You’ll receive a confirmation of submission email once you have submitted. If you don’t get one, it is probably a good indication that you haven’t hit that Submit button! It’s also a good idea to hold onto that email for your records as well.

Chris:

So while we’ve taken you through the steps to help you work through and submit your 2016 AIS, we also need to remind everyone that there are consequences if you don’t submit your AIS.

We can also publish a statement on the ACNC Charity Register which states that your charity’s AIS is overdue.
And while it might not be the first course of action we take, we can issue penalty notices if we find that the charity is deliberately not meeting its obligations to report.

April:

That statement we referred to will take the form of a red mark. If your AIS becomes overdue by a considerable amount of time, we can put a red mark next on your charity’s entry on the ACNC Charity Register. This red mark tells those who view your record on the Register that your charity’s AIS is more than six months overdue.

With more and more people looking at the Register to learn about charities, to help them make decisions about donating, volunteering or even grant funding … having a red mark next to your name can be pretty detrimental.

So we do encourage you to get the Annual Information Statement submitted in a timely fashion to avoid this red mark displaying on your record, or any penalty notices being issued.

And once you do get your AIS submitted, any red marks in your charity’s Register listing will disappear.

Chris:

This is an outline of some of the penalties. There can be a heavy financial cost for persistent non-compliance, so even though there are penalties that the ACNC can reach for in these circumstances, it’s unlikely that this is going to happen the day after things become overdue, or for submitting something one day late.

But please be aware that persistent non-compliance does bring about the risk of fairly significant financial penalties.

April:

As a worst-case scenario, not submitting your AIS can put your charity at risk of becoming what we call a ‘double defaulter’ charity. Double defaulter charities are those charities that have not submitted an AIS for two years; once this happens the ACNC will work towards revoking a charity’s registration – something which will see the organisation lose its charity tax concessions.

You can see on the screen what will appear next to charity’s listing on our Register if it is revoked.

We do display a list of double defaulters on the ACNC website – Double defaulters.

We currently have a group of charities listed on that page that will have their registration revoked by the end of this week if they don’t comply. You can go have a look at the list and see if there are any charities in your area that might be at risk.

If you do recognise one and they’re still operating, get them to contact us as soon as possible, so we can let them know what they need to do to avoid revocation.

Chris:

We’re nearing the end of our main presentation now, but we want to remind you that there are plenty of great resources on the ACNC website. There’s a list on screen now, most of which we have covered throughout the webinar.

The one that I would really recommend you go to first is that one at the top there, acnc.gov.au/2016AIS.

This page links to some great resources, including the 2016 AIS Guide – which contains full comprehensive text explanation of all the questions within the Annual Information Statement as well as handy little, I guess we can call them ‘how to’ videos for each section that explain how you answer particular questions, and the information you’ll need in order to answer those questions.

These important links will be included in the follow-up email we’ll send out to you all in a few days time.

April:

And if you want to stay in touch with us at the ACNC, we have regular Commissioner’s Columns that are sent fortnightly, and email updates. There is lots of web guidance, new podcasts coming soon, some more video content, and of course webinars such as these.

If you have any specific questions about your charity give us a call on 13 22 62 and we’ll be able to help you out as best we can. And if there’s anything that’s troubling you about the Annual Information Statement, our Advice team are more than happy to help.

Or if you’d prefer email, feel free to send us an email at advice@acnc.gov.au.

And of course we’re pretty active on social media, too.

Chris:

All right, that’s pretty much the end of formal proceedings today. We’ve got some questions which have come through during the course of the webinar.

Thanks to everyone who has sent a question through we’ve got Matt and Nathan typing away with great speed in the background to respond to a number of your queries, and they will continue to do so for the next few minutes.

But there’s a couple of questions we’ve received and have continued to pop up, so we thought we’d highlight them now and answer them.

The first is a pretty straightforward one – just asking if they can have an extension of time to submit the Annual Information Statement. April, did you want to explain about that?

April:

We understand the deadline is coming up and there are some people who might not think they are going to get it in on time. But it is important to note that extensions are only granted in unforeseen, extenuating circumstances.

That’s something like a serious illness or a natural disaster where you might’ve lost your records – a flood or a fire or whatnot.

So the inability to lodge by the due date due to your accountant has been busy, or yourself not having enough time is probably not going to get you any sort of extension, so we would just recommend getting it through as soon as possible and talking to us if you think you are not going to meet the deadline.

But if you do genuinely need an extension and fit the circumstances, you can apply for one by emailing advice@acnc.gov.au and just include your charity name, your ABN, the basis for your request for an extension and the date you’ll have it submitted by.

So some more questions have come through – Chris, someone’s asking what they should do if they’ve made a mistake after they’ve submitted the AIS, and what they should do to fix it. Do you have any ideas?

Chris:

Firstly, I guess, we’d hope that after this webinar you wouldn’t make any mistakes! But we’re all human so these things happen – and it is very easy to do.

What the best course of action is is to simply let us know. And the best way to let us know is via email. And again that is to the advice address: advice@acnc.gov.au.

If you make sure you include your charity’s name, its ABN and which year’s AIS you wish to amend – most likely in this case it is going to be the 2016 one. What we will arrange for is for your AIS to be put back into what we call “in progress”.

That means you can get back in, log into the portal, re-access the form and you can amend your answers. After you’ve amended your answers you can again re-submit. And again, hit that Submit button!

One other question we’ve got – we talked about responsible persons throughout the webinar. This is linked to this question – who can sign and submit the AIS?

Does it have to be the president, or the secretary of a charity? Who is responsible for it?

April:

Great question, so it doesn’t have to be a Responsible Person, like the president or the secretary. But they can of course submit it if they want to.

Basically anyone can submit the form who is authorised by the charity to do so. So it can be a responsible person or it can be an authorised person – someone who holds a position in the charity which gives them the authority to sign and submit the form.

Or it can be an agent – such as a lawyer or accountant, who has been given this authority on behalf of the charity. But I thought I’d just mention that when we say “sign” the form – because it is an online form you don’t physically need to sign it you just need to tick that declaration box and that’s how you sign the form and submit it.

Chris:

We did have one other question which came up in comments during the webinar; someone asking about being registered with ASIC, and what that means – or how it impacts on their reporting.

Charities who are registered with ASIC, they don’t need to report to ASIC. As part of the implementation of the ACNC, and its establishment, certain requirements in the Corporations Act were “switched off’ for companies that are also registered charities.

This means companies registered with the ACNC do not need to send any financial reports to ASIC, but they do need to submit an Annual Information Statement to the ACNC and a financial report if required.

Now because they no longer need to report to ASIC, they also no longer need have to do a number of things, including file an annual review, provide financial reports, pass a solvency resolution or pay an annual review fee with ASIC – that’s handy.

There are some parts of the Corporations Act that relate to financial reporting which still apply to charities. For further information about these, it is probably best to contact Advice again on the phone or via the email address we’ve said a few teams.

April:

Another question that has come through – someone has asked us if they need a lawyer or an account to submit the AIS – do they need that professional help?

What I’d say to that is no, not necessarily. Some of the larger charities in particular might wish to retain the services of a professional to complete the AIS – that’s because they have complicated financials, structures and projects.

But for many of the small charities out there – and many of you joining us today – the AIS is designed so it can be completed by anyone closely associated with the charity, knows what’s been going on and has access to the finances.

We’ve all the resources we’ve touched on today, and the Advice team on hand to answer any questions, that’s more than what you’ll need to complete it on your own. So, no need to pay someone unless you really feel the need to, I’d say.

Chris:

And just to make sure you know, it doesn’t cost anything to submit the AIS. It is free.

We have had in the past people believe that they’ve lodged their AIS because they’ve sent off their paperwork with a cheque. But they are actually confusing their reporting obligation to perhaps a state regulator or a state-based authority. They are confusing that with the ACNC.

So it is important to keep in mind that the AIS is separate to, and in addition to, any other reporting obligations your charity may have. And we do not require any payment with your submission.

April:

So we are nearly at the hour … we’ve wrapped up a little early but I’m sure a lot of people are hungry and have lots of other work to do so, we might wrap it up. Thank you everyone for joining us today and for all of the questions you have sent through.

We’ll hang around a little bit longer to answer any last minute questions that come through via the chat box, so feel free to send any more through. But again if we don’t get around to you – email us, call us and we will answer your questions later on.I’ll just mention again that we are we are always looking to improve our education products, so we would really appreciate it if you took the time to let us know what you thought of today’s session by completing that survey or sending us an email at education@acnc.gov.au.

That’s it for now. Thanks to Chris for presenting with me today, and to Matt and Nathan for helping us with all the questions. We hope you all enjoyed the session today and we hope to see you again at a future webinar. Bye for now.

Chris:

See you later, all.

Related resources

As mentioned in the webinar, here are the links to resources that you may find useful for completing the 2016 AIS:

We encourage you to share the resources.