Hello everyone. Welcome to today’s webinar on Completing your 2016 Annual Information Statement. My name is Matt Crichton. I’m an Education Officer here at the ACNC. And joining me today to present today’s webinar is my colleague April Kitchenham.
Before we get into the webinar proper today, there’s just a few tips before we start I’d like to run through. First, if you have any difficulties with the sound on your computer, try calling the phone number listed in the GoToWebinar control panel. Another way that you can get the audio is to call that phone number and listen through the phone line. Also, if you’d like to ask a question throughout, you can type it in any time to this GoToWebinar panel. On the right hand side of your screen you should be able to see a little box for questions, so if you wanted to ask a question at any time throughout the webinar feel free to do so in that text box there.
But just on that, we will allow some time at the end of the webinar to do a Q&A session effectively. So if you wanted to hold off until the end of the webinar and ask a question then, no problems, we’ll be able to address as many questions as we can after the presentation. Also the answers to the questions will be directly to the questioner, and they will be answered privately, unless we think that the answer is general and would be of use to everyone. If you would like the answer to remain private, please let us know. And we do suggest you keep your questions general. If you wanted to ask something specific about your charity and your charity’s obligations to the ACNC, or how your charity needs to complete a particular section of the Annual Information Statement, it’s probably best to give us a call directly and have one of our Advice Services team members help you through that. And if we can’t answer any of the questions that come through today, no problems, we’ll get back to you via email in a follow-up email later on.
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All right, with the admin stuff out of the way we can move on to the presentation, and I’ll pass you over to April.
Thanks, Matt. So like Matt mentioned, today we’re going to be talking about completing your 2016 Annual Information Statement. On your screen there is just what we’ll cover today [indicating to presentation slide]. First off, we’ll go over what the AIS is, and what a charity needs to report on the AIS. We’ll go over when the AIS is due, and how to submit the AIS, and we’ll go over what is needed to complete the AIS, and also an overview of each section of the AIS. And we’ll finish off with some bits and pieces about what action the ACNC can take if a charity fails to submit its AIS.
So kicking off, for those of you who may not be familiar with the AIS, the AIS is basically an online form that asks questions about a charity’s operations and finances. We often refer to it simply as the AIS, as saying Annual Information Statement over and over again can be a bit of a mouthful. It just contains some questions about a charity’s activities, its beneficiaries, operating locations, its staff, and also it asks you to confirm that certain charity information is up to date, so that’s your governing documents, your responsible persons, and your subtypes. There are also some financial questions included in the form, so you’ll need to put in some figures from your profit and loss statement for example, and medium and large sized charities will also need to submit a financial report with the Annual Information Statement, and we’ll go into those requirements in a little bit more detail later on today.
But it is a requirement that all charities need to comply with. All charities need to submit an Annual Information Statement every reporting period, unless they have an exemption, and the exception that we’re referring to there is charities that are registered with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, or ORIC, but those charities must continue to report to ORIC as usual. So that’s just a bit of a nutshell explanation of the AIS.
Thanks, April. The due date for the Annual Information Statement will be different for all charities. This is because it depends on the reporting period of a particular charity, that is, the dates to which they report internally. Most charities will report to the regular financial year of July to June, but there are some other reporting periods that are fairly common, and charities AIS due dates will reflect their own reporting period.
The rule, though, is that an AIS must be submitted within six months of the end of a charity’s reporting period. For example, the organisations that do report to a regular financial year, that being July to June, they are required to submit their Annual Information Statement within six months of the end of that financial year, being the end of June, meaning their due date would be at the end of December. Similarly, an organisation that reports to say a calendar year, from January to December, their Annual Information Statement would be due again six months after the end of their reporting period, being the end of the December, means that their Annual Information Statement would be due by the end of June.
The two most common deadlines, as you can see on the screen here [indicating to presentation slide], are the 31st of December for charities reporting to the regular financial year, and the 30th of June for charities using the calendar year reporting period, so that means that we’ve got – well actually, before we get onto that I have to mention the extension there that we’ve got listed on the screen. So even though the six month deadline following the regular financial year is the 31st of December, the Commissioner has allowed a one month extension for those charities because of the Christmas and New Year period where the ACNC is shut for a period of time, and this extra month, this extension, allows for the lost time that charities may have had in December where they wanted to contact the ACNC or get some advice or help in completing an Annual Information Statement. So even though the 31st of December is technically the due date, there is an extension that is granted to those charities, which means that their due date becomes the 31st of January.
Which is only a week away, so there are a lot of charities that are trying to get their Annual Information Statement prepared and submitted in the next few days.
So just on the due dates, what can you do if you’re not too sure of what your reporting period may be or when your Annual Information Statement is due? What we’d suggest is jumping on to the ACNC website and going to the Register. You can see the URL there [indicating to presentation slide], acnc.gov.au/CharityRegister, and then you can just pop in your ABN or your charity name to bring up your charity’s listing on the Register, and on that listing it will actually display what reporting period we have recorded for your charity, and your subsequent due date.
So I guess the default reporting period that we have for charities is the July to June financial year, so I recommend just reviewing that information, and if that reporting period is not correct, just jumping into the Portal and updating that information. So we’ve got a little screen grab there that will show you what to look for on your Register listing, that will highlight your due date, the Annual Information Statement or financial report that’s due, and highlight whether or not it’s been received, and if so, the date that we received it, and some more information there on reporting due dates if you need some further clarification around that [indicating to presentation slide].
Great, thanks April. One of the questions that we often get here at the ACNC is a request for the form, the physical form to be sent to charities, or if they haven’t received their form yet and they’re a bit unsure about how they’re supposed to complete their annual reporting. The Annual Information Statement is an online form, and it’s contained within the ACNC’s Charity Portal, which is accessed via the ACNC website. So it isn’t a physical form that you wait for the ACNC to send to you and then you fill out and send back in the way that you would expect for some other organisations I guess. It is contained entirely within the website, so you don’t need to mess around with filling out any paper, you just log in to the website and complete the form and submit it in there.
There are two ways you can get there. As I mentioned there’s an access point from the website, the ACNC website that is, the home page, you can see the top right hand corner, little purple tab that says ‘Portal’ [indicating to presentation slide], and also under that a link which says ‘Submit the AIS’, which can get you to the Charity Portal. Otherwise you can go directly there by putting in that URL as we’ve got on the screen there [indicating to presentation slide], charity.acnc.gov.au. Whichever way you access it, you will end up in the same point where you have to log in.
So once you’ve gone through those steps that Matt’s just taken us through, you’ll be taken to the Charity Portal log in page. From this page you can log in to the Portal in just a few easy steps. So the first thing that you’ll need to do is accept the terms and conditions, and that’s just by clicking that little radio button there that’s highlighted with the red arrow on your screen [indicating to presentation slide], which will then bring up a box where you’ll pop in your username and your password. So your charity’s username is your ABN number, so that won’t ever change, and that’s just something you’ll need to type in the numbers of without any spaces in between, and then your charity will also have its own unique password. So the password was something we would have sent to your charity very early on, a few years ago now. So understandably that could have been lost along the way, or misplaced, or not passed on when committee members changed or whatever it may be, so don’t fret if you haven’t got that password, we do have a password reset available online. There’s a link on that page there, on the website, where you can just follow some prompts and we can get you a new password quick and easy.
And once you’ve just got those details you’ll just pop them in, and that’ll take you to the Portal home page.
Which looks like this [indicating to presentation slide]. Once you’re logged in it’s very easy to get to the Annual Information Statement. The top left hand corner, the first link there is ‘Submit Annual Information Statement’, that’s the link you click on to get into the form [indicating to presentation slide].
There is other information within the Portal about your charity and some of its details, and this is where you manage the administration of your charity with regards to ACNC obligations. I guess it’s worth mentioning that changing committee members or board members, and some details about your organisation is not managed through the Annual Information Statement, so if there are a few changes that you need to make you would need to do it here in the Portal, before you get into the Annual Information Statement.
You’ll see in the middle, the main part of that home page there, there are also alerts [indicating to presentation slide], so if your charity’s missing something, it’s missing some information, it doesn’t have a governing document, or there’s a few responsible persons missing from the listing, then it will alert you there, and then you can click on those little alerts and fill in the details that you’re required to.
So once you’re ready to submit the Annual Information Statement there’s some information that we would recommend having on hand, just to make the process a lot quicker and easier for you, just to avoid having to save your answers then log out and log back in again while you gather that information.
So first off, we would of course recommend having that username and password. Without it you won’t be able to log in to the Portal and access the form.
Another handy resource to have is the 2016 Annual Information Statement guide. Now that can also be found on our website, and it’s a really good resource to have as it goes through the Annual Information Statement questions in detail and explains how to answer those questions, so if you’re not sure that’s a good reference point.
Annual reports and any other project reports are also handy; they can help answer questions about your activities and how you’ve carried out your charitable purpose. The Pay As You Go payment summaries will also help you answer questions about your employees - your employee numbers that you’re required to pop down in the form later on. Having any funder/donor or grant acquittal reports might also be useful for you as well. And importantly, those financial documents, so any financial reports and statements such as your balance sheet or statement of financial position, any statement of profit or loss, and other comprehensive income for the reporting period, will help you answer those financial questions.
It is really worth getting all of this stuff ready before you get into it. It makes getting through the form a lot easier. And this page will help as well [indicating to presentation slide], first the URL down the bottom there, acnc.gov.au/2016AIS, there are a few handy links as you can see, ‘Complete the checklist’, ‘Draft your answers’, and ‘Read the guide’. It’s worth having a look through some of those resources. The checklist just provides, as the name suggests, a checklist of the things that you may need to complete the Annual Information Statement. Draft your answers is an optional worksheet that you can use if you wanted to draft some of the answers on a piece of paper before putting them into the form online. And the guide is really a comprehensive guide, and it goes through every single question contained with the AIS and provides an explanation of the terms and what’s required in each of the questions, and can be used to help you out if you get stuck on any of them. So it’s handy to keep that one with you as you go through it, acnc.gov.au/2016AIS.
Also, there is some guidance from the home page, more targeted I guess to some of the financial reporting aspects of the Annual Information Statement. If you wanted to have a look at that, hover the mouse over the ‘Manage my charity’ tab from the home page and you’ll see a link which says ‘Report annually’, and within that a little sub menu that brings up much of the guidance that would be relevant for answering the financial questions within the Annual Information Statement [indicating to presentation slide]. It’s worth having a look through those if you anticipate some troubles with that part of the form, or you just wanted to make sure that you’ve got everything ready and you’re confident that you’ll be able to get through the form, that part of the form, when you get to it.
So now what we’ll do is we’ll have a look at each section of the AIS, and just briefly go through what each section asks for. So first off is Section A: Charity Information. This section is fairly straightforward, it really just asks you to confirm the basic information about your charity, so that’s your name, your contact information, and your charity size. If you’ve completed previous AIS submissions online, so that’s your 2013, 2014, and 2015 AIS, a lot of these answers will be pre-populated for you in the form, so that’ll just make it that little bit easier and quicker for you to complete. But you can, of course, change those pre-filled answers if they’re not up-to-date.
One more important thing to note about this section is it does ask you to confirm your contact address and your Address For Service. Your Address For Service is important because that’s the address that we use to send formal documents and notifications to. For example, we do send reminder letters and emails in the months leading up to the AIS submission date, so having the Address For Service up-to-date is a way to ensure that you don’t miss those important notifications.
From Section A we move to Section B, which focuses on your charity’s activities, and gets into the operations of a charity. This section will ask about the activities that your charity undertook throughout the year, and importantly, activities can be financial or non-financial. For example, something as simple as developing a strategic plan, or employing staff, or doing administrative work, are all activities. There’s often a misconception that the word ‘activity’ in this context means something more tangible, some classic charitable works undertaken in the field or on the street, or you know running a soup kitchen, or doing aid work overseas, that sort of thing. It’s not only that sort of thing, it can be activities as simple as administrative work and developing a strategic plan, so it’s important to keep that in mind.
The purpose of this question is to identify inactive charities, so if you are unsure about whether your charity has conducted any activities, it’s probably a better bet to select ‘yes’, because in most cases it’s likely that a charity has conducted an activity of sorts in the year. If you do answer ‘no’ you must explain why your charity did not conduct any activities through the 2016 reporting period. So if you plan on answering ‘no’ it’s probably worth having a think about that and thinking about the reasons that you’ll provide to explain that.
This section will also ask about the main activities for your charity in the 2016 reporting period. Where possible select the activities under the options provided, rather than selecting ‘Other’ and typing in a range of activities that you think are more appropriate. If any main activities that your charity conducted are not listed, and we’re talking about main activities here, you may select ‘Other’ and briefly describe them using a single word or a phrase. In some instances some charities tend to select ‘Other’ where there are some existing categories that would be more appropriate. For example, an activity such as child care could probably fit under social services. Similarly, community services could be economic, social, and community development. Disability services would be social services. So rather than immediately skipping past all the pre-existing categories and clicking ‘Other’ to put in your own description, it’s best to have a think about the main activities of your charity and see whether or not they would fit into the categories that are provided in the form.
We will just quickly have a look at this part of the form now. If you bear with me, we’re going to switch from the presentation to the Annual Information Statement, to give you an idea of what we’re looking at here [indicating to presentation slide]. So Section B activities, as you can see the first question asks you whether or not you conducted any activities and, as we’ve talked about, it is most likely going to be a ‘yes’. When you get to main activity, this is a mandatory question of course, and you have to select from the dropdown menu here and choose the category that best suits your charity’s main activity, and I know that some charities do a range of activities and help out the community in a number of different ways, and it may be difficult to pinpoint a main category, but we ask that you do think about your charity’s main activity and choose the appropriate option from the dropdown menu here.
And then there are a series of options for you to select, before asking you which areas in which you conducted your charitable activities. Question 11 asks you to describe how your charity’s activities and outcomes helped achieve your charity’s purpose. As we’ve got there, it’s worth just describing some key points maybe from your annual report [indicating to presentation slide]. It doesn’t have to be from your annual report. If there are other sentences or other phrases you’d like to use to describe your charity’s activities, how your charity’s activities and outcomes helped achieve your purpose, then feel free to do so, but try and keep it succinct, keep it brief, and keep it targeted to the main things that you did.
Moving down further in this part of the form there is a question that asks about your charity’s beneficiaries, and this is the category of people that your charity works to help. In some circumstances this may be really easy for a charity, they clearly help one particular group within the community, and it’s listed here, and it’s very easy, and they’ll be able to move on to the next part of the form [indicating to presentation slide], but for a lot of charities it’s pretty difficult because they have a purpose that could be applied to the general community in Australia, and it doesn’t specify particular groups within the community. If that’s the case it’s probably best to select ‘General’. Rather than selecting ‘Specific’ and then clicking every applicable box, it’s best to just recognise that your charity probably doesn’t have a particular targeted group on which it focuses, so ‘General’ is probably the best answer there.
However if your charity does target a particular group, for example as you can see on the screen here I’ve got ‘Adults 65 and over’, if my charity targets adults of that age specifically then it’s probably worth choosing a specific beneficiary group [indicating to presentation slide]. There are quite a range of groups there, so think about what your charity does, what its main activity is, before answering this question, and if you do have a purpose that is available to most people in Australia, or general community in Australia, it’s probably worth clicking ‘General’ rather than ‘Specific’ and then choosing every single box that may apply.
I might just head back to the presentation now. Anything to add for that point, April?
No, I think you covered that. That was great. Thanks, Matt.
So moving on to Section C, it’s probably another one of the more straightforward sections, Section C: Human Resources is about the people who work or volunteer for your charity. So this section will just ask you to put down the number of your employees, so that’s your full-time and part-time employees, and also your volunteers. So just to clarify, full-time employees are those that work 35 hours or more per week, while your part-timers are those that work less than 35 hours per week. And your volunteers, those people can be regular or irregular volunteers, they may have volunteered once for an hour, or they may have volunteered every day. Each charity will of course be different. And it’s also important to keep in mind that volunteers can include any unpaid board or committee members. And just a little tip, if you’re not too sure of the exact number of your volunteers, just estimate to the best of your ability and pop that number down.
OK, Section D is focused on finance, and questions in this section are mandatory, except for a few specific types of charities for which it’s not mandatory, include non-government schools and basic religious charities. Just quickly on that term there ‘basic religious charities’, that’s a specific term within the ACNC context that refers to a particular type of charity registered with the ACNC. So it’s not just a term that describes any religious charity that is basic, it’s a particular term that the ACNC has to categorise a particular type of religious charity which meets several criteria. There is some information on our website about basic religious charities, and some helpful guidance for you to determine whether or not your charity meets the criteria to be considered a basic religious charity, but if you’re unsure it’s worth reading through some of that guidance. As I said, it’s not just a basic description of any religious charity that may consider itself to be basic.
The questions in the finance section do vary, and this will depend on a charity’s size. There are more questions that are required for medium and large charities. We will touch more on charity size a little bit later on, but just very briefly a medium sized charity is one that has annual revenue of more than $250,000, up to $999,999, and then at the million dollar mark that’s where it becomes a large charity. So those medium and large sized charities will have to answer a few more questions than a small charity which is with a revenue of under $250,000 a year.
Before you get into answering the financial part of the Annual Information Statement it’s important just to note that in the past couple of years we’ve noticed some charities have made some errors in this section, and in many cases they may be really simple errors such as omitting a zero off one of the figures, or forgetting to include a particular figure or some information. We’ve come across these errors and the charities that we identified as having made errors have had to look over their AIS again and then correct the errors and submit it again. So before you do get to this section and answer the questions, I just want to really stress that it’s important to get the figures correct, it’ll save you having to do this again in a couple of months time. You don’t want to hear from us to let you know that we found an error in the financial information that you submitted, and you’ll have to do this section again and correct the errors. It’s really worth taking the time to get this correct now, get the figures right, and double check them, to make sure you don’t have to do this again later.
We do have, just on these errors, we do have some guidance on the website which we’ll include in the email actually. I mentioned some guidance on the website as we go through, and sometimes the URL isn’t on the screen that you can see, but if I do mention that we have some guidance and there’s good information on the website, it will be included in the follow-up email that we send, so don’t worry about frantically trying to find it on our website, we will provide you with a link. Having said that, there is some guidance that addresses the errors that we’ve found in the past few years, so it’s worth having a look at those, just to be aware of the type of problems that we’ve come across so that you don’t fall victim to that fate either.
As I said the requirements within the form are according to charity size, and you can see it listed there, and we have the URLs there actually to help you for this one [indicating to presentation slide]. So acnc.gov.au/CharitySize explains that in more detail, /BasicReligiousCharity looks at the requirements for that particular type of charity, and acnc.gov.au/Forms is a section of the website that contains some forms which you may need to fill out if you need to apply to have your charity size altered for a particular year or if you need to apply to have your reporting period changed or something like that.
So as Matt mentioned, charity size is based on annual revenue. Some of you might be wondering what annual revenue is. So basically revenue is a part of income created from the sale of goods or services, or any other use of capital or assets associated with the ordinary operations of your charity. Revenue is usually shown at the top line items in an income profit and loss statements, and just by way of example, revenue can include such things as grants from government, foundations, private or any other sources, any donations, or any fees for services, sale of goods, and any interest earned on investments and dividends. So revenue can be a little bit complicated, so the Australian Accounting Standards AASB 118 and AASB 1004 provides some more technical accounting detail on what revenue entails, and there’s a link there that will take you to that for more further explanation [indicating to presentation slide]. But of course if you have any specific questions about your charity size and revenue you can call us on 13 22 62, or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can answer your questions on that one-on-one basis there.
There is a calculator available on URL accountingforgood.com.au/acnc-calculator. If you’re not too sure of what your charity size is, if you’re hovering between that small and medium size line there, and you’re not too sure which side of the fence you will fall, if you put in some figures here into this calculator that will actually determine what your charity size is [indicating to presentation slide]. So that’s a really good resource there to have if you’re not too sure what your revenue is or what charity size you fall into.
Great. Thanks, April. Yeah, that is a really handy one, and a lot of charities we’ve heard have found that useful in calculating their annual revenue, so it’s worth having a look at it if you’re unsure.
Charities with no transitional reporting arrangements must submit the following as part of this section of the Annual Information Statement, so a financial report for the reporting period – by the way, this is optional for small charities; medium and large must submit this, but small charities have an option to. It may be a good idea if you have a financial report ready to go anyway, it may be a good idea to submit it, but if you’re a charity that has annual revenue of less than $250,000 a year there’s no mandatory requirement for it – a financial report for the reporting period, which includes a statement of profit or loss and other comprehensive income; a statement of financial position; changes in equity; cash flows; notes to the financial statements; a responsible persons’ declaration about the statements and the notes.
April did mention very briefly at the beginning that a responsible person – or maybe not, we didn’t go over that one – but a responsible person in the ACNC context is the member of the charity’s governing body, which in most cases is going to be a committee or a board. It’s the people that sit on that governing body and direct the charity, and make decisions on behalf of the charity. So that’s what we mean there by ‘responsible persons’.
It also needs a reviewer’s report and an auditor’s report, which is signed and dated. For medium charities there is an option to have just a reviewed financial report, rather than an audited financial report. However, for large charities it must be an audited report, so if your charity has annual revenue of more than a million dollars, you will need to supply an auditor’s report which is also signed and dated.
There is some really good guidance on the website for this particular section of the Annual Information Statement at acnc.gov.au/FinancialStatements, and also within the 2016 Annual Information Statement guide which does go over every question in a little bit more detail. So if you’re having a little bit of trouble with this part of the form I suggest those two resources are the best way to get through it, the financial statements for acnc.gov.au/FinancialStatements, and the guide that we spoke about a little bit earlier, which is acnc.gov.au/2016AIS.
OK, so Matt touched on this a little bit earlier on, but just to go over it again, it is really important to get the financial section of the Annual Information Statement right. It’s important to remember we do check the information submitted in the Annual Information Statements, including the financial information. Upon reviewing some of the figures in the 2015 Annual Information Statements, for example, we did notice that there were some charities that submitted the 2015 AIS with financial errors. So just on your screen there are some tips to, I guess avoid putting any incorrect information in the financial section, as those charities that we did identify as having incorrect information were contacted and asked to resubmit the AIS [indicating to presentation slide].
Hopefully this won’t be too much of an issue going forward, as we’ve introduced an auto calculation function in the 2016 Annual Information Statement, but there are some tips to think about to avoid making those mistakes. So just on the slide there [indicating to presentation slide], it’s important to know your charity size and your financial report type, so for example if you’re a large sized charity remember you need to submit that audited financial statement. If you’re a basic religious charity make sure you’re definitely a basic religious charity, self assess correctly, and if you’re not a basic religious charity submit all the information required of you.
And of course check your figures, so just have a second pair of eyes just go over your Annual Information Statement before you submit it, just to make sure the figures in there all add up and are correct. And remember to submit all the financial information required of you, like the details on the last screen there, the responsible persons’ declaration and you know, the financial statement, just make sure we’ve got the complete financial report when you provide that to us, if required. And like Matt mentioned, just check your figures. A lot of the errors we found were just little typos and other little mistakes, such as adding an extra zero. So again, it just might be a good idea to have someone just check it before you press that submit button at the end.
Thanks April. And don’t forget to have a look at the size specific guidance as well, if you know your charity’s medium or large, and you’re having trouble with the financial section, there is some guidance specifically for that sized charity on the website, at those URLs down at the bottom of the screen there [indicating to presentation slide], acnc.gov.au/SmallReporting, MediumReporting, or LargeReporting.
For some of the more technical, I guess, accounting sections of the Annual Information Statement, it really is worth having a look at some of the information we’ve got on the website. The Annual Information Statement does ask about cash or accrual accounting practices. We go into this in more detail on the website there at acnc.gov.au/CashAccrual [indicating to presentation slide]. It does ask about special or general purpose financial statements, which again is covered in much more detail on the website at acnc.gov.au/FinancialStatements. And of course the differences between a review and an audit, and the requirements for having one or the other, are covered at acnc.gov.au/ReviewAudit.
Also if you have any questions about this, now general questions is probably the best way to go, but feel free to type them into the GoToWebinar panel on the right hand side. We do have our colleagues Caitlin, and Chris, and another Matt, answering some questions there for you, so if you’ve struggled at some point in the financial section of the Annual Information Statement and you would like some guidance now, then feel free to type in the question. Otherwise, if you want something really specific about your charity’s situation, then it is best to either send us an email directly, or give us a call to talk about it on 13 22 62.
OK, so in addition to your requirement to submit an Annual Information Statement and any financial reports along with that to the ACNC, it’s important to note that you may also have an obligation to report to other regulators. This will often depend on your legal structure. For example, if you’re a company limited by a guarantee you may have obligations to ASIC, or if you’re an incorporated association you may have obligations to your state or territory regulatory, such as Fair Trading, or Consumer and Business Affairs. So unless you’re notified otherwise, your obligation to submit the AIS to the ACNC is in addition to any other obligations you may have to other regulators.
We are working to streamline the reporting obligations of charities to have more of a one-stop-shop in the future, but for the moment just keep in mind that you do need to keep up any other obligations with any other regulators as well. But in saying that, we do have transitional reporting arrangements in place. So we’ve got ORIC on the screen there, so like I briefly mentioned before, if you’re registered with ORIC you simply need to continue to report to ORIC, rather than submitting financial information to both the ACNC and ORIC. And if you’re a non-government school that provides a financial report or a financial questionnaire to the Department of Education, the ACNC will actually accept that financial questionnaire submitted to the Department of Education and Training as meeting the financial reporting requirements of the ACNC. We are working to streamline that duplicate reporting requirement for some charities out there.
Great. Thanks April. As you can probably see the financial section of the Annual Information Statement, it’s fair to say it’s probably the most difficult for most charities, and contains some of the questions and answers I guess that are difficult to find, so it’s worth taking the time to think about the information that you need to provide and, as April mentioned, having some of the figures or the details checked by another person before you submit it. You don’t want to be caught up in having to correct errors in a few months time, after having sat through and submitted the form once.
Section E on the other hand is probably a little bit more simple than the financial section. This one just asks whether or not the details that the ACNC holds for your charity are current and accurate and up-to-date. So the ones that we’re looking for, the information that this refers to, is the governing document of the charity. Is the governing document that you’ve supplied to the ACNC a current one? Have you supplied a governing document at all? It’s one of the requirements of a registered charity, so make sure you are clear about the answer to that one. Just quickly, a governing document is – some people may not know what that refers to – it’s the formal document that sets out the rules and processes of your charity. In many cases it will be called a constitution, some organisations call it rules, or organisation rules, or articles of association.
They’re some of the common types, the common names, but it’s the formal document that sets out the reason that your charity was established, the rules and processes it follows, and what its purposes are, and why it does what it does.
Check that the responsible persons listed with the ACNC are accurate. This is one that some charities will definitely need to get onto. There has been a board meeting earlier in the year, or after the annual general meeting there was a change in board members or committee members, and the charity didn’t get around to logging into the ACNC website and making the change, now is a good chance. just check these details and make sure that the ones that are currently with the ACNC are correct.
And of course a charity subtype too. Charities are registered with the ACNC under particular subtypes, which are sort of like a category or a type of charity that reflects the sort of work you do. It’s worth checking that you have a charity subtype registered, and that that is still accurate. An important thing to note, though, with Section E you can’t make these changes within the Annual Information Statement, so it asks you whether or not the details are correct, if they’re not you will have to make the changes in the Charity Portal. It’s something I did mention briefly at the beginning of the webinar, that you’ll have to go back into the Charity Portal, that’s the main section where you manage your charity’s details, and then from there you’ll need to provide an accurate governing document or the list of responsible persons, or make sure your charity subtypes are correct.
Moving on to Section AF: Ancillary Funds, this section is actually new to the 2016 Annual Information Statement. It’s only for Ancillary Funds, though, so it probably won’t apply to many of you out there, and if that’s the case this section won’t appear for you when you complete the Annual Information Statement. But for those of you that this does apply to, completing this section actually replaces the requirement to lodge a separate Australian Taxation Office Ancillary Fund Return for 2016, however this information is not for publication and will simply be forwarded to the ATO only. Again it forms part of our work to streamline reporting obligations for charities, making life easier for them. But it’s just something that is quite new and probably won’t apply to many of you out there.
If you’re not an Ancillary Fund you’re not going to see that in the Annual Information Statement, so I wouldn’t get too caught up on what it means and how you answer it if you’re not one of those entities.
And finally, Section G probably doesn’t need too much guidance here, it’s just the declaration which asks you to confirm that all the information you provided in the AIS is true and correct. And before signing it I think, April, it’s probably worth mentioning once again, check the financial details in your Annual Information Statement, before you sign this declaration, check it, go back over the financial section, just have a breeze over the details, have someone else check them to make sure you haven’t made any errors. And make sure you check the right declaration box, and don’t forget to submit. Believe it or not we’ve had quite a few charities complete the entire Annual Information Statement, only to be called by us to tell them that they haven’t done it, and it was simply because they forgot to click the submit button at the end.
Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of that page and click the submit button, that way you won’t get called by us in a few weeks time to ask you where the Annual Information Statement is, and you will have actually submitted it. Don’t forget that simple step.
You’ll get a confirmation of submission email when you do submit, so that will be something you can hold onto for your records, to confirm that it has come through to us correctly.
Yeah. And a little hint, if you don’t receive that confirmation email it suggests maybe you haven’t completed it yet, and you haven’t hit the submit button is probably the likely culprit.
So because the Annual Information Statement is a legal obligation there are of course consequences in not complying with that requirement. So a couple of things may happen if you don’t submit your Annual Information Statement and take no action to try and do so. The ACNC can issue penalty notices. So if we find that a charity is deliberately not meeting its obligation to report you may get some sort of penalty notice.
We will also publish a statement on the ACNC Register stating that the Annual Information Statement has yet to be submitted, and is now a considerable amount overdue. And if that’s the case we will put a red mark on your charity’s Register entry indicating that the Annual Information Statement is six months or more late. So with the increased uptake in using the Charity Register by the public, by donors or funders or grant makers who use the Charity Register to look at a charity’s details, having a red mark on your Register listing might be detrimental for you. 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 of course if you do get the Annual Information Statement submitted the red mark will disappear, but until that point that red mark will be on your Register listing.
And as April mentioned there are penalties, so 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, or for one day late or anything like that, but just know that persistent non-compliance does bring about the risk of fairly significant financial penalties.
So I guess the worst case scenario that you’d put yourself at risk at in not submitting the Annual Information Statement is becoming what we call a double defaulter charity. If a charity does not submit an AIS for two years the ACNC will work towards revoking its charity registration, which will also result in the loss of the charity’s tax concessions. So when that happens we do display a list of these double defaulter charities on the ACNC website, and you can see the URL there [indicating to presentation slide], acnc.gov.au/DoubleDefaulters. So it might be worthwhile having a look at that list, just to see if there’s any charities in your area that you know of that might have had their registration revoked, but are actually still operating. If that’s the case get them to contact us as soon as possible, so we can get them back on the Register. They will need to submit any outstanding information, but it’s something that we can reverse.
That brings us to the end of the main presentation. As I mentioned before, there’s a lot of handy resources on the website to help you through the Annual Information Statement. We’ve got a list of the URLs to those resources here [indicating to presentation slide]. We will include all of these in the follow up email, so no need to start frantically trying to write all of these down, we will send them to you. But it’s definitely worth checking the ones that apply to the specific sections that you feel you may have trouble with, or you are in fact having trouble with.
The one that I would really recommend you go to first is that one at the top there, acnc.gov.au/2016AIS. Not only does it have a full comprehensive text explanation of all the questions within the Annual Information Statement, there are handy little, I guess we can call them ‘how to’ videos for each section that explain how you answer particular questions, and what the information is that you’ll need to answer those questions. But as I said we will provide all of these in a follow-up email, so there’s no need to write them all down right now.
And of course if you want to stay in touch with the ACNC we have regular Commissioner’s Columns that are sent fortnightly, and email updates. There is lots of web guidance, 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, that’s really the place to go to get some detailed targeted guidance. Or if you’d prefer email, feel free to send us an email at email@example.com. And of course we’re pretty active on social media, too.
Thanks for sticking around and listening to today’s webinar. We hope it has been useful. We hope that it’s been able to clarify some of the parts of the Annual Information Statement that you may have found tricky before. And if there is anything that we haven’t covered feel free to send us an email, we’ll be able to get back to you, or as I mentioned before give our Advice Services team a call on 13 22 62. And of course we welcome feedback, as I mentioned at the beginning, so if there’s anything that you can suggest, anything you’d like us to cover, any improvements we can make – I’m sure there are plenty – send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All of our webinars for 2017 are listed on the website, acnc.gov.au/webinars, so if there are any topics coming up that look of interest to you, note them down in your calendar, and once the links to register come about you can register and join us for another webinar.
April, we did receive a few questions throughout, so we’re going to just run through a bit of a Q&A now. We hope that we’ve selected some questions that we think would be useful for most people, most charities, so if you’ve got a couple of burning questions that haven’t been covered by the rest of the presentation, we’ve still got a few minutes for you to jump onboard and type in the question now, but we’ll go through a couple of them that came up as we went through.
Yeah. So we have had a few questions come through. Thank you to everyone who’s asked questions throughout the session today. We’ve got one here, Matt, we touched on the Address For Service earlier on, it is a mandatory field in the AIS, there’s someone who said that they don’t have a generic charity email address, they’ve just got their own personal email address, and they’re just conscious that that goes on the website, and they’re not too sure that they want that out there. Is there any way around that, any recommendations?
Look, a lesser way around it, and more a recommendation, is to probably look at getting a generic email address, something such as email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org, something of that nature which you’d feel comfortable with going up on a website and as a representation of the charity’s main Address For Service. That’s probably the best course of action for something like this. But the other benefit of that is that it doesn’t restrict the communications between the ACNC and the charity to a single person, and that person’s email address inbox. We’ve seen in the past where charities have missed notifications and missed reminders because the person that they had used their email address for the Address For Service left the organisation and didn’t pass it on, or didn’t change it with the ACNC, and charities have found themselves in a little bit of strife regarding their reporting for having not known that they had fallen behind, because they simply hadn’t received the email.
So the best course of action is to use a generic one, even if that means using one of the free web based service such as Gmail, or Live.com, or Yahoo email. There’s plenty of them out there that are free that are worth probably using as a generic email address. Having said that, it doesn’t mean you can’t use a person’s individual email address as their Address For Service. That is of course up to the charity, which address they want to use as the main Address For Service, it’s just probably best practice in this sort of context to use a generic one.
Very good. Just another one that’s come through, can charities print the AIS before submission, say if they want to take it to their board to approve, can that be done?
Unfortunately at the moment, no, it can’t. We recognise I guess a call for this, where it might be handy to be able to print out all the answers and show them to the board before you submit. The functionality of the form at the moment doesn’t allow for this, but what we would suggest is using the worksheet that’s available. And as you fill in the forms, if you wanted to just take a note of the answers you’re providing online on the written worksheet, that’s a work around for that lack of functionality. And you can use that worksheet just to show your board or your management committee, or whoever you need to show to get approval before you submit the answers.
It is something that we’re aware of, and at the moment that the best way is to use the worksheet to get around that. After submission it’s a different story, and you can print off the answers then, but before you submit we can’t print off the form as it is.
We’ve got one more, April, just on that actually, a follow up – we’ve sort of run out of time pretty quickly – so but we’ll go one more, and it sort of touches on the one that I’ve just answered, and someone asked about making a mistake in the AIS. So I guess there is the case where someone does submit it, and then prints off the submitted AIS, show the board, and the board says, “Hey, this is a mistake, what’s going on?” What can someone do in that situation?
Yeah, if that’s the case, what I’d recommend is just getting in touch with us, sending an email at email@example.com, just letting us know that there’s been a mistake in the 2016 Annual Information Statement, and you need to amend it. Just include your ABN and the year that you want to resubmit, whether it’s the 2016 one or any prior years, and we can arrange for that Annual Information Statement to be put back in progress for you, where you can actually re-access the form, amend your answers, and then resubmit. So just let us know and we can certainly help you out.
OK. And that probably is it for today, we’ve already crossed over the hour mark. We’re after one o’clock and I’m sure most of you are keen to get some lunch. Thanks for sticking around with us for the full hour, we really appreciate it, and we hope that you’ve gotten something out of this.
There are a couple of questions that have hung around that we haven’t been able to answer, but we will get to those questions via email and provide an answer to you. So if you haven’t had your question answered, don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten you, we will get to those questions. And once again thanks everyone for joining us today, and be sure to go onto the website to have a look at the rest of this year’s scheduled webinars and see if there are any topics coming up that look of interest to you, and to send us an email with your feedback/suggestions/improvements/comments, that sort of thing. Thank you.