19 July 2013
Since 1995, there have been seven major reviews of the Not-For-Profit (NFP) Sector, including the Productivity Commission Research Report on the Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector released in 2010. In 2011 the Federal Government made an election promise to support a reform agenda which lead to the establishment of the Office for the Non-Profit Sector in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and, subsequently, the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) Taskforce.
New Legislation and progress towards red tape reduction
19 July 2013
Charity Bill passed
The Bill was passed in the last days of the Parliament and has a start date of 1 January 2014. There are few changes from the exposure draft including an addendum to the explanatory memorandum (See below) which incorporates recommendations from the Sector concerning the distinction between purposes and activities of an entity.
ACOSS’ media release in welcoming the new legislation noted that:
Until this reform, the definition of charity relied on over 400 years of caselaw. While the community’s notions of what is charitable have changed significantly in that time, the taxation structures that show society’s support for charitable work have struggled to keep pace with this change.
While this reform does not broaden the access to tax concessions that leave many charities still struggling, it is a critical first step.
View online: Explanatory Memorandum – Charities Bill 2013 (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013
View online: ACOSS media release - ACOSS welcomes statutory definition as first step to a truly modern approach to charity
View online: ACNC media release - Historic Act clarifies meaning of ‘charity’
The Governance Standards have been passed and came into effect on 1 July 2013 for all organisations registered with the ACNC - with the exception of Basic Religious Charities. The final governance standards reflect only minor changes to the draft standards released for community consultation in 2012.
The ACNC is confident that few organisations will be required to change their governance practices to meet the new standards however support and education will be available to assist where necessary.
The ACNC website has detailed information on its phased approach to monitoring compliance.
View online: Minter Ellison Analysis of ACNC Governance standards
View online: ACNC Governance Standards – ACNCS’s approach to governance standards
View online: ACNC Governance Standards Guidance July 2013
ACNC report on 2014 Annual Information Statement (AIS) Consultation
The report assesses both the consultation process and the actual submissions. 160 submissions were received either written (44) or via the online survey (116). They also collected data during face to face consultations and teleconferences. As a result of the consultation:
Two proposed questions have been removed to allow for further consideration of the issues – separate disclosure of related party transactions by medium and large registered charities and separate disclosure on business activities by all charities.
- The question requesting information on reserves held by medium and large charities has been removed
- The 2014 AIS has been simplified for small charities and additional guidance has been provided for organisations using cash accounting.
- Optional questions will be included.
A more detailed analysis is available on the ACNC website including a link to the written submissions.
The above changes do not apply to the 2013 AIS. For more information on the 2013 AIS see below.
These changes apply to the 2014 AIS (covering the period July 2013 to June 2014) which is not due until 31 December 2014 or later if a substituted accounting period has been approved by the ACNC.
View Online: ACNC Analysis of the 2014 Annual Information Statement Consultation
View Online: ACNC Sample 2013 Annual Information Statement
View Online: ACNC Guide to 2014 AIS requirements
View Online: ACNC NSCOA factsheets for small, medium and large charities (Download the PDF for large charities)
The ACNC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with both the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and Office of the Register of Aboriginal Corporations (ORIC).
The MOU with ASIC covers an agreement between the two agencies to create structures to streamline regulatory requirements for registered charities that are also registered under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) as companies limited by guarantee. The terms of the agreement will allow for information sharing, staff secondments, mutual training arrangements, joint taskforces and service agreements. This will not affect either agency’s legal requirements regarding what may or may not be disclosed to the other agency and both remain subject to existing privacy, confidentiality and secrecy provisions.
The second MOU with ORIC confirms that the ACNC will accept reports lodged with ORIC under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) as satisfying ACNC annual reporting requirements until at least 2014–15.
View Online: ACNC The Commissioner’s Column 19 June 2013 – Working across Government - Memorandum of understanding with ASIC
View Online: ACNC media release: Registrar and the ACNC work together to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander charities
National Standard Chart of Accounts (NSCOA)
NSCOA was developed by the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Under an agreement with QUT, it is now the property of the ACNC.
The guidelines were developed after broad consultation with the NFP and government sectors.
The ACNC Commissioner Susan Pascoe noted that:
NSCOA provides a common approach to capture accounting information for use by not-for-profits, government agencies and other interested parties. Although use of the NSCOA is optional for charities the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments have agreed to accept NSCOA. Adopting it can relieve charities of administrative burden as it is fit for purpose, achieves consistency and consolidates multiple definitions into a simpler classification system.
View Online: ACNC The Commissioner’s Column 19 June 2013 – NSCOA has a new national home
View Online: ACNC NSCOA factsheets for small, medium and large charities (Large charities - download PDF)
ACNC Register launch
The Register was launched on 11 July by the Assistant Treasurer Hon David Bradbury MP. The Register ensures a level of transparency and accountability for the Charity sector. The community can freely access up-to-date information from a dedicated and trusted source and in doing so promote public trust and confidence in the sector.
It currently contains 11 search fields enabling access to 23 pieces of information and will be progressively updated as information is collected. The most recent update was in response to the ACNC’s request for organisations to confirm their details. It will be further enhanced on the return of information from the 2013 Annual Information Statements.
View Online: Find a charity on the ACNC Register: quick search - About the ACNC Register
ACNC Progress Report
The report outlines the ACNC’s achievements during its first six months of operation under the headings of:
Reporting and red tape reduction
- Charity registration
- Advice services
- Communications and engagement
- Compliance and strategic intelligence
View online: ACNC Six month progress report
At the recent Associations Forum Conference in Sydney, Kevin Andrews confirmed that that Coalition plans to dismantle the ACNC. He maintained that it is the Coalition’s strong, principled belief that the political community – the State, the Government and its bureaucratic agencies – should be at the service of civil society. He stated:
The current Government’s approach to civil society has been a paternalistic mix of treating the sector as a mere extension of government – an agent of social service delivery – and as an otherwise obedient servant and at times mouthpiece of government ...
Regulation would return to the arrangements in place before the creation of the new big regulator – a new bureaucracy that is all about regulation and enforcement – that is all about looking over the shoulder of civil society, rather than empowering it.
In its place we will establish a new, small, centre for excellence.
View online: Pro Bono News Coalition wants new NFP ‘Philosophy’
View online: Pro Bono News Future of the ACNC under a Federal Coalition
View online: The Hon, Kevin Andrews MP speech 18 July 2013,
The role of civil society – Association Forum, Sydney
Charity Bill before Parliament and ACNC’s regulatory approach
31 May 2013
Introduction of Charity Bill to Federal Parliament
The Federal Government introduced the Statutory Definition of Charity Bill on 29 May 2013 with only four sitting weeks before the next election. If it is passed it will take effect from 1 January 2014 as advised in the Federal Budget. It was originally to take effect from 1 July 2013. The new start date will provide time for the Australian Charities and Not for profits Commission (ACNC) to develop guidance for charities regarding the definition.
There are eleven key changes in the Bill which are outlined in the Pro Bono Australia article Charity definition bill reaches Parliament.
View Online: Charity definition bill reaches Parliament
No gag clauses: Not-For-Profit Sector Freedom to Advocate Bill 2013 passed
The Not-for-profit Freedom to Advocate Bill 2013 was passed by Parliament on 28 May 2013. The “no gag” Bill invalidates clauses in Commonwealth contracts that limit or prevent the NFP sector from advocating on Commonwealth law, policy or actions. Unfortunately in NSW gag clauses in State contracts with Community Legal Centres are still being considered.
View online: Not-For-Profit Sector Freedom to Advocate Bill 2013
The future of the NFP Reform Agenda
Centre for Independent Studies have released a paper, In the pay of the piper: governments, not-for-profits, and the burden of regulation which outlines an alternative view on the current NFP reform agenda. It argues that the proposed Bill introduces a broader statutory definition of charity that threatens to debase the concept of charity. It also argues that ‘progressive’ reforms, such as the ACNC, will impose a regulatory burden weightier than anything proposed by the Productivity Commission and amount to little more than a pretext to extend government control over the sector.
Download: In the pay of the piper: governments, not-for-profits, and the burden of regulation
Kevin Andrews and David Bradbury have both released commentary on the future of NFP Reform under a Coalition Government.
View online: Kevin Andrews - Future of the ACNC Under a Federal Coalition
View online: David Bradbury - Coalition Plan for Charities: Slash Your Funding and Give Up on Smarter Regulation
ACNC Publications – Guidance for Board Members
The Policy and Education unit within the ACNC has release a guide for people who are or are thinking of becoming, members of a board. It is a succinct yet comprehensive guide on what it means to be member of a board of a charity. It provides a brief explanation of governance, the role of the ACNC, and the roles, responsibilities and obligations of boards and their members. They have also produced a poster of the their top ten tips to achieve good governance
Download: Governance for good - the ACNC's guide for charity board members
Download: ACNC’s poster Governance for good – top 10 tips
ACNC Publications – Regulatory Approach Statement
With the completion of its community consultation, the ACNC has released its final version of its Regulatory Approach Statement outlining the key principles. It has based its approach on an understanding that the purpose of charities is to benefit the public, “as they contribute to our society in vital ways, including addressing disadvantage, enabling people to live meaningful and rich lives, and in strengthening the fabric of our communities and environment.”
Download: ACNC regulatory approach statement
Download: ACNC Consultation results and contributions
Reporting requirements for Companies Limited by Guarantee registered with the ACNC
Charities that are Companies Limited by Guarantee currently have reporting obligations to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC). Some of these obligations will no longer apply after 1 July 2013 if the company is registered with the ACNC.
The Chartered Secretaries of Australia (CSA) has developed a table showing reporting requirements under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) that will be switched off from 1 July 2013.
View online: What has been switched off under the Corporations Act for the officers of a company limited by guarantee that is a charity?
Release of legislation and future directions
6 May 2013
Statutory Definition of Charity draft legislation finally released
The Commonwealth announced on 8 April that the Statutory Definition of Charity draft legislation and related material had been released for public consultation. This closed on 3 May 2013. This follows on from the 2011 consultation paper on the definition of charity which received over 200 submissions which were taken into account in the drafting of the legislation. It is proposed that the start date for the legislation will be 1 January 2014.
Download: Exposure Draft – Charities Bill 2013
Download: Exposure Draft – Charities Bill (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) 2013
Download: Explanatory Material
Download: Treasury Factsheet – Statutory Definition of Charity
Media Release: Public consultation on a statutory definition of charity
Download: 2011 Consultation Paper – A Definition of Charity
ACNC Governance standards released
The proposed standards have been tabled in Parliament as regulations however it has been subject to a Motion to Disallow. This will be dealt with during sitting of Parliament however if the motion is not passed the standards will apply to charities from 1 July 2013. Further information and resources are available on the ACNC website.
ACNC website: Governance and external conditions
Governance for Good –guide for board members
As part of its education program the ACNC has produced a guide for people who are or thinking of becoming a board member. Available as a PDF or online it is a brief but quite comprehensive source of information on boards with links to further information.
ACNC Website: Governance for Good
ACNC Strategic Plan for 2012-15
The plan covers the ACNC’s first three years of operation. Its priorities for the period are:
• Maintaining and enhancing public trust and confidence in charities
• Supporting charities to be healthy and sustainable
• Making it easier for charities by driving regulatory and reporting simplification
• Developing an independent, transparent and well governed organisation which is enhanced by a positive internal culture
The document outlines how this will be achieved and includes critical success factors.
Download: ACNC Strategic Plan
Recent Submissions to Federal Government
ACOSS submission to Treasury: Governance Standards for the Not-for-profit Sector
NCOSS Submission to ACNC: 2014 Annual Information Statement Public Consultation
ACOSS Submission to Office for the Not-for-profit Sector: Code of Best Practice for Engagement with the not-for-profit sector
NCOSS Submission to COAG: Regulatory impact assessment of potential duplication of governance and reporting standards for charities
Active Strategies to reduce red tape
25 March 2013
Draft NFP Code of Best Practice
The Federal Government has released for consultation a draft Code of Best Practice for Engagement with the NFP sector entitled Engaging today for a better tomorrow. Submissions may be received until 29 April 2013.
Through the National Compact, the Government has committed to improving its relationship with the NFP sector based on mutual trust, respect, collaboration and partnership to develop and deliver better policy and programs and strengthen sector viability.
Consulting with the NFP sector enables the Government to be better informed and therefore make better decisions. Ultimately, the National Compact and its Code(s) will bring about mutual benefits for the sector and Government through an improved relationship, better designed policies, more effectively implemented service delivery and stronger public communication and community ownership. In turn, this will also have a positive impact on communities and individuals.
Media Release: Best practice code for engagement with not-for-profits released
Download: Engaging today for a better tomorrow
2014Annual Information Statement (AIS)
The ACNC has begun consultation on the 2014 Annual Information Statement (AIS) and has released a preview of the 2013 AIS. Organisations are not required to submit their first AIS until six months after their 2012-13 reporting period, which for most organisations will be 31 December 2013.
To assist charities prepare for the 2013 AIS, the ACNC has created a sample and guide. Registered charities do not need to provide any financial information to the ACNC for the 2013 reporting period.
The 2014 AIS Draft Consultation Paper outlines the proposed requirements for the 2014 reporting period onwards and how to provide feedback.
It is proposed that the 2014 AIS will:
• require charities to provide both financial and non-financial information (in addition to any financial reporting obligations depending on the size and type of the charity);
• allow for small charities to provide less information than medium and large charities;
• not require basic religious charities to answer financial questions in the 2014 AIS and for future years; and
• require small charities to identify whether they use cash or accrual accounting and provide details of basic financial information.
The Consultation closes on 26 April 2013. Written submissions in response to the seven consultation questions may be emailed to
or feedback may be provided by completing the online survey .
Further information is available from the ACNC website.
ACNC Website: Reporting
Download: Sample 2013 Annual Information Statement (AIS) [PDF 302KB]
Download: Step-by-step guide to the sample 2013 AIS [PDF 126KB]
ACNC Survey: Online survey
Download: 2014 AIS Public Consultation Paper [WORD 432KB]
Download: Attachment (i) - Proposed 2014 AIS additional questions for small charities [WORD 216KB]
Download: Attachment (ii) - Proposed 2014 AIS additional questions for medium and large charities [WORD 234KB]
Download: Attachment (iii) - Proposed additional guidance notes in the 2014 AIS [WORD 200KB]
Download: Attachment (iv) - National Standard Chart of Accounts (NSCOA) [WORD 267KB]
Revised Commonwealth Grants Guidelines
The Government has released the revised Commonwealth Grant Guidelines for the Not-For-Profit sector. Based on the ‘report-once, use-often’ philosophy, it aims to reduce red tape and improve collaboration between Government and the NFP sector.
Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Senator Penny Wong noted that in future “agency staff should not seek information from grant applicants and grant recipients when that information is already collected elsewhere in Commonwealth government. In particular, agency staff must not request information provided to the Australian Charities and Nonprofits Commission by registered charities.”
The Guidelines also propose further red-tape reduction strategies by encouraging government agencies to use longer-term contract and the development of a low-risk grant template.
An overview of the changes to the Guideline has been released by the Australian Government Solicitor.
Download: Commonwealth Grant Guidelines for the Not-For-Profit sector
Download: Overview of changes to Grant Guidelines
Australian Capital Territory joins South Australia to sign up to the ACNC
Mark Butler MP, Minister for Social Inclusion and Andrew Barr MLA, ACT Deputy Chief Minister
Announced that the ACT has agreed to align its regulatory framework for incorporated associations and fundraising with the ACNC. The changes will mean that charities that are incorporated as associations in the ACT will only need to report to the ACNC and not the ACT Office of Regulatory Service. Amendments will also be made to the Charitable Collections Act 2003 (ACT).
Media Release: ACT signs up to new charities regulator
Governance standards to be tabled in Parliament
The Federal Government announced that the new governance standards for organisations registered with the ACNC will be tabled in the next sitting week of Parliament.
A number of changes were made to the draft Governance Standards in response to the public consultation process. These are outlined in the Assistant Treasurer's media release.
The final standards specified in the Regulations are:
• Purposes and not-for-profit nature of a registered entity
• Accountability to members
• Compliance with Australian laws
• Suitability of responsible entities
• Duties of responsible entities.
Media release: ACNC governance standards to support our charities and our community
Download: Governance Standards
Download: Explanatory material
BDO Not-for-profit Tax Concession Survey 2013
The question as has been raised whether the Federal Government's Not-for-profit Sector Tax Concession Working Group's discussion paper outlines meaningful reform for the NFP sector or just another element of uncertainty?
BDO tested this hypothesis for one month between 8 January 2013 and 8 February 2013 by providing NFP organisations the opportunity to communicate their views on the Working Group's discussion paper. Collectively, the respondents conveyed a clear message - there is a resounding lack of confidence in the Government's ability to effectively support the sector if the key tax concessions were to be removed.
BDO National Tax Director Lance Cunningham said “It is clear the sector is particularly concerned about the proposed changes to Fringe Benefits Tax concessions, with almost 92 per cent of respondents saying it should continue to be provided to employees, FBT concessions are a key means for Not for Profits to attract and retain talented staff and many said it should be increased by some degree.”
Download: BDO Not-for-profit Tax Concession Survey 2013
Submissions. ACNC presentations. ACNC Advisory Board
11 March 2013
There were four consultations, listed below, all now closed:
• Governance Standards for the Not-for-profit Sector
• ACNC - financial reporting requirements
• ACNC regulatory approach consultation - How can I participate?
• Regulatory Impact Assessment of Potential Duplication of Governance and Reporting Standards for Charities
The Governance Standards paper received 96 submissions which are available on the Treasury website. The ACNC Regulatory Approach Statement received 250 submissions, eleven of which were written. The ACNC notes that 80-90 percent agreed with the Statement. Further information and a summary of the survey results are available from the ACNC website.
Submissions for the other two consultations are yet to be made publically available.
Australian Treasury: Governance Standards Submissions
ACOSS Submission: Submission to Consultation Paper on the development of governance standards
ACNC Survey results: Summary of Regulatory Approach Survey results as at 2 March
ACNC Community Presentations
The ACNC has concluded its national community presentations. The presentations were designed to inform charities and NFPs about the changes under the new regulator and answer any questions. The sessions ran for three hours and included:
• an introduction to the ACNC, role, impact and benefits
• the ACNC regulatory approach consultation
• general question time
• governance standards and financial reporting consultation.
The ACNC has released three videos of ACNC Commissioner Susan Pascoe presenting a session in Shepparton, Victoria on 1 February 2013. The slides from this presentation and from a Regulatory Approach Consultation held at the same time are also available.
Videos: ACNC Community Presentation
ACNC Powerpoint: ACNC community presentation
Australian Treasury Powerpoint: Governance and financial reporting standards for charities
In addition, the ACNC is currently visiting all states and territories running seminars to provide practical guidance and support to explain how the ACNC will affects individual charities.
These sessions will provide more detailed information about the ACNC, including:
• why the ACNC was set up
• how the ACNC affects your charity
• the benefits of registering your charity
• the ongoing obligations of registered charities.
Seminars, in partnership with PILCH NSW and NCOSS, were held in late February in Sydney, Dubbo and Coffs Harbour. It is anticipated there will be further seminars in regional NSW later in the year.
For those organisations that have missed or are unable to attend these seminars, the ACNC has developed factsheets and timelines outlining the transitional arrangements, ongoing obligations, information on governance standards and the top tasks that will need to be managed to comply with the ACNC legislation.
ACNC website: Manage my charity – Transitional arrangements for charities
ACNC Advisory Board
Membership of the Advisory Board was announced by the Minister for Social Inclusion, Mark Butler MP. The Board will be led by Robert Fitzgerald and includes a range of individuals with significant experience within the non-government sector. The board will also include representatives from the Governments of New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory as ex-officio members
Media Release: ACNC Advisory Board Appointments
Start date for "Better targetting of NFP Tax Concessions" postponed. COAG and additional ACNC consultation
4 February 2013
Better targeting of NFP tax concessions
The start date for the introduction of new measures to reform tax concessions provided to NFP organisations to ensure they are only targeted at activities that directly further the purpose they were established for, have been deferred to 1 July 2014.
"This extension will enable further consultation and engagement with the NFP sector on this measure and ensure there is an opportunity for detailed stakeholder input to be provided." (Minister for Social Inclusion, Mark Butler MP)
Media Release: Later Start Date for Better Targeting of Not–For–Profit Tax Concession .
Regulatory Impact Assessment of Potential Duplication of Governance and Reporting Standards for Charities
The Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) was released on 25 January 2013. Its purpose is to identify regulatory duplication between the draft Commonwealth governance and reporting standards and existing State and Territory requirements for charities registered with the ACNC. The RIA enables stakeholders to provide feedback on the proposed options.
Closing date for submissions is 21 February 2013.
Regulatory Impact Assessment: Regulatory Impact Assessment of Potential Duplication of Governance and Reporting Standards for Charities
ACNC Regulatory Approach: Statement for Consultation
ACNC released the ACNC Regulatory Approach: Statement for Consultation in December. Stakeholder forums in capital cities and regional centres will be conducted by the ACNC from late January to early February. The NSW consultations were held on 30 & 31 January 2013.
For those unable to attend the consultations, the ACNC has provided alternative methods including online forms and telephone access.
The formal consultation closes 1 March 2013.
Consultation Paper: ACNC regulatory approach consultation - How can I participate?
New ACNC publications
The ACNC has released since December 2012 an extensive range of materials including an overview of the Federal Government’s NFP reform agenda and a guide to the ACNC Act which has been developed as a resource to assist organisation’s understand their requirements and how to interact with the ACNC and will be updated as required. There is also an extensive list of factsheets including information on the compliance obligations of Charities registered under the NSW Associations Incorporation Act 2009.
Publications: Report: Not-for-profit reform and the Australian Government
Guide to the ACNC Act (Version 1)
Draft standards & regulations consultation. ACOSS response to tax consultation.
10 January 2013
Release of draft standards and financial reporting regulations for public consultation
Treasury has released the Development of governance standards Consultation Paper December 2012 and the Exposure Draft – ACNC Financial Reporting Requirements (including explanatory material) for public consultation. Submissions regarding both documents can be lodged electronically or by post on or before 15 February 2013.
The ACNC is also undertaking a community presentation program across the country which will include:
• an introduction to the ACNC, role, impact and benefits
• the ACNC regulatory approach consultation
• general question time
They will also use the sessions to consult on the governance standards. Sessions will be held in Sydney on 30 January 2013 and Lismore on 31 January 2013. More information on how to register is available on the ACNC website.
It is also possible to participate in the consultation process online, by phone or by mail until the end of February 2013.
Media Release: Public consultation on ACNC governance standards and financial reporting regulations
Governance Consultation Paper: Governance Standards for the Not-for-profit Sector
Financial reporting requirements: ACNC - financial reporting requirements
(includes links to the draft regulations and the explanatory material)
Discussion Paper on Tax Concessions: ACOSS response
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) made a submission on behalf of the COSS network in response to the Not-for-profit Reform Council discussion paper Fairer, simpler and more effective tax concessions for the not-for-profit sector.
The working party is expected to report back to the Commonwealth Government in March 2013. For further information see entry for 6 November 2012
ACOSS Response: ACOSS Response to the Discussion paper on tax concessions
ACNC launched. Consultation process for regulations announced
11 December 2012
ACNC opened 3 December 2012
Australia's first independent charities regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) commenced operation on 3 December 2012. The formal launch was held on 10 December in Melbourne.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission website can now be accessed. Information on the website includes:
- Which organisations are required to register?
- How to register
- Ongoing obligations
- The role of the ACNC in the national not-for-profit reform agenda
There is also a link to the ACNC Register enabling organisations to check if their details have been moved across automatically from the ATO or whether they will need to register.
The ACNC provides an advice line able to answer general enquiries and provide access to other relevant ACNC services and guidance information on topics ranging from registration matters to reporting.
Phone: 13 ACNC (13 22 62)
The ACNC can also be followed via social media:
For additional information subscribe to the ACNC email updates and e-newsletter
Consultation papers on governance standards and financial reporting to be released
The Office for the Not-for-Profit Reform has announced that consultation papers on governance standards regulations and financial reporting regulations will be released in early 2013 and will be open
until mid-February 2013.
ACNC to open early December
23 November 2012
It has been announced that the ACNC will begin operation in early December; the actual date is still to be established. In the interim, A guide for board members and others who manage charities has been released providing key information about the ACNC for charities (eg charity tax concessions, the ACNC Register, ongoing obligations of registered charities, and a calendar of key dates).
The Interim Commissioner’s Column for 23 November provides a brief overview of what to expect from day one of the Commission.
Tax Concessions & Not-for-profits' Discussion paper
6 November 2012
Fairer, simpler and more effective tax concessions for the not-for-profit sector
The Not-for-Profit Sector Tax Concession Working Group (Not-for-profit Reform Council) has released their discussion paper Fairer, simpler and more effective tax concessions for the not-for-profit sector. The paper considers the tax concessions currently provided to the sector by the Federal Government and a range of options that could reform the current approach with the aim of making it “fairer, simpler and more effective”.
Written submissions are requested by 10am on Monday 17 December 2012. Information on how to make a submission and the discussion paper are available on the Treasury website.
Submissions will inform the final report which should be available to the Government by March 2013.
Online forums on government consultation and governance standards
5 November 2012
Developing a Consultation Code under the National Compact
The NFP Reform Council and Office for the NFP Sector have held workshops in all capital cities seeking feedback from the NFP sector on the development of the Consultation Code. The main areas for discussion were the current barriers to good consultation, what things work well and recommendations for how Government and the NFP sector can do things differently. Feedback received will be available on the National Compact website .
An online discussion forum will be open until 16 November 2012. To join the conversation, go to the Consultation Code Forum .
The NFP Reform Council has opened an online forum to ask NFPs about appropriate governance standards that work well in the NFP sector. To be involved in the conversation, go to the Governance Forum .
Passing of Bill and positive steps towards red tape reduction
1 November 2012
Bill passed by both Houses
The Senate has passed the third reading of the Bill however it included 23 amendments in addition to the nine amendments passed by the House of Representatives. Consequently the Bill was returned to the House of Representatives where they agreed to the Senate amendments and passed the Bill. It will now be prepared for assent by the Governor-General.
For further information go to the Parliament of Australia’s "Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Bill 2012" webpage. This includes the schedule of amendments and the final text of the bill.
See also the ACOSS media release of 1 Nov, ACOSS welcomes landmark step towards nationally consistent regulation for charities
Reporting and Red Tape Reduction Directorate
One of the amendments to the ACNC Bill introduced by the House of Representatives was the addition of a third Object that being "to promote the reduction of unnecessary regulatory obligations on the Australian not-for-profit sector." The ACNC has responded to this with the establishment of the Reporting and Red Tape Reduction Directorate. The Directorate brings together pre-existing staff already working towards the reduction of unnecessary regulatory obligations. In a recent speech the Assistant Treasurer noted that the ACNC will be required to publish and deliver on a 'red-tape reduction timeline and plan' and report to Parliament on its progress against this timeline via their annual report where the Reporting Directorate will have ownership of these responsibilities. For further information see the Interim Commissioner's Column 26 October 2012
Changes to Commonwealth Grant Guidelines
Hon. David Bradbury MP, Assistant Treasurer, Senator Penny Wong, Minister for Finance and Deregulation and Mark Butler MP, Minister for Social Inclusion announced that the Commonwealth Grant Guidelines will be amended to support the implementation of a 'report-once, use-often' reporting framework for the not-for-profit (NFP) sector. The changes will benefit organisations that are registered with the ACNC and receive Commonwealth agency grants. Commonwealth agencies will now be required to assess what information is already being collected by regulators such as the ACNC when determining what acquittal or reporting requirements are required for a grant. In addition Commonwealth grant recipients will no longer be required to provide an annual audited financial statement where it has already been provided to the ACNC or the grant activity is considered high risk.
Companies Limited by Guarantee
The Taskforce has been working with ASIC to ensure that charities registered as companies limited by guarantee will not see an increase in their reporting requirements with the establishment of the ACNC. For further information go to the Interim Commissioner's Column 12 October 2012 .
South Australian response to ACNC
South Australia has announced it will amend its state-based rules governing non-profits to defer to the incoming Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC). It will amend its incorporated associations and charitable collections legislation to harmonise reporting requirements and authorise charities to collect charitable donations in South Australia, once they have formally registered with the new national regulator. It is hoped that NSW will follow this lead.
Delay to planned commencement
24 September 2012
The delay to the planned commencement of the ACNC is official, as announced in the ACNC Taskforce media release of 21 September.
The legislation is now before the Senate however it is expected that the Bills will not be considered again until the next Parliamentary sitting, week commencing 9 October 2012. It is understood that both the Government and the Greens are proposing certain amendments in the Senate which suggest that the passage of the Bills is more likely to occur at that time.
Also of interest is an August 2012 article by Linda Lavarch, Chair of the Not For Profit Sector Reform Council, on the potential of the ACNC From Haphazard to Harmony.
Parliamentary Committee reports handed down
18 September 2012
Both Parliamentary Committees have completed their public
consultation and reported on their findings. The reports can be found at:
In both cases:
- the majority
recommendation is that the legislation should be passed
- the Coalition have put
forward a dissenting report which recommends that the legislation should not be
- in relation to the first
report the Greens put forward “Additional Comments” with recommended changes to
- in relation to the latter report they put forward a dissenting report
which again included recommended changes
In the second report from
the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, Senator Xenaphon provided "Additional Comments".
Both inquiries attracted a number of written
submissions. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations elicited 46
public submissions and the Senate Standing Committee on Community
Affairs elicited 48
The Second Reading debate which began in August is currently
continuing in the House of Representatives.
ACOSS support for the proposed Regulator
18 September 2012
releases have made their support for the ACNC Bill very clear. Whilst
noting that there are concerns that the legislation could go further to reduce
red tape and improve financial reporting, they also noted that the concerns by
the sector have been listened to and many relevant changes have been made.
ACOSS made specific reference to the Directors Social Impact Study 2012 commissioned by the
Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and released on 17 September
and to the AICD media release Directors
sceptical about impact of ACNC . The ACOSS media release
noted that the AICD study was completed prior to these changes being made.
ACOSS Submission to the reviews of the ACNC Bill and consequential amendments
6 September 2012
ACNC Bill and "In Australia" amendments
23 August 2012
ACNC Bill introduced to Parliament
The Commonwealth Government today introduced the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Bill 2012 to Parliament. This most recent version of the Bill takes into account the recommendations made in the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics Report.
In the Bill’s second reading speech , the Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury said:
"The work of the NFP sector has a profound impact upon the lives of so many
individuals and the communities that we all comprise. The Government is
committed to working collaboratively with this important sector to implement
a series of important regulatory reforms to support and strengthen the sector
for the future. The establishment of the ACNC is a key step in this process."
In the media release , Mark Butler, Minister for Social Inclusion was noted as saying:
"This is about letting NGOs and charities get on with what they do best, rather
than being weighed down by regulation and red-tape."
Further to this, the Bill, along with the related Not-for-profits Commission (Consequential and Transitional) Bill 2012, is currently being considered by the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services which will report back on 12 September and 10 September respectively.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Bill 2012 and Explanatory Material are available on the Parliament of Australia website.
"In Australia" Amendments
The Tax Laws Amendment (Special Conditions for No-for-profit Concessions) Bill 2012 was also introduced to Parliament on 23 August. This Bill re-states the 'in Australia' special conditions for income tax exempt entities and codifies the 'in Australia special conditions for deductible gift recipients.
Release of Standing Committee on Economics ACNC Bill Inquiry Report
The Report on the Exposure Draft of the ACNC Bill was tabled in Parliament on 15 August. It made 11 recommendations many of which reflected the concern noted in the submissions by ACOSS, PilchConnect and the Not-for-Profit Project at the University of Melbourne Law School.
One of the most fundamental recommendations was that red tape reduction be included as an object of the ACNC Act. Other recommendations include the redrafting of the section dealing with obligations, liabilities and offences (eg director's liability) and addressing issues around procedural fairness and natural justice. It also recommended that the "Government consider incorporating existing or sector-developed governance standards into the Bill through regulation, in addition to a default set of governance standards" (Recommendation 4).
Coalition's dissenting report
The Report on the Exposure Draft of the ACNC Bill also included the Liberal Members of the Committee's Dissenting Report which recommended that the Bill not be supported on the grounds that it:
Adds another layer of regulation while ever the States and Territories retain their regulatory powers; questions the capacity to achieve progress with key Commonwealth agencies
Elements crucial to the practical operation of the legislation have been left for the minister to determine by regulation
Penalties are excessively onerous, short-sighted and will deter volunteerism
Erosion of the privacy of Private Ancillary Funds
Failed to address concerns raised by sector agencies throughout the consultation process.
Parliamentary Inquiry Submissions and more on Coalition's position
1 August 2012
ACOSS submission to Inquiry into the ACNC Bill
ACOSS has released two submissions on behalf of the COSS network. The first outlines 12 key points of concern including the Independence of the ACNC, their role in reducing red tape, drafting of the legislation, charity definition, procedural fairness and proportionality of sanctions, etc
Submissions referred to in the ACOSS submissions:
The second, the supplementary submission reiterates the main points whilst providing additional support material and draft wording for clauses in the proposed legislation, etc.
Other Submissions can be accessed on the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics Inquiry into the ACNC Exposure Draft Bill website.
Coalition's position on the NFP Reform
Kevin Andrews addressed the Associations Forum Conference in July. He outlined the Coalition's platform in relation to the NFP sector or "civil society", including their assessment of the proposed national regulator (the ACNC) and their future directions ie the ACNC would be an educative, research and advocacy body, fostering innovation. He noted the ATO, ASIC and other similar bodies would retain their current regulatory role as well as the Common Law definition of "Charity". They would also maintain the Public Benefit Test.
Federal Government's response to Coalition's position
The Assistant Treasurer, David Bradbury's speech at the Defining, taxing and regulating not-for-profits in the 21st century Conference in Melbourne included a response to the Coalition's platform. He noted that the sector does not support the ATO retaining its regulatory position and that there is a need to improve the current regulatory environment which is fragmented, inconsistent and uncoordinated.
ACNC Developments and Coalition's Reform position
10 July 2012
Inquiry into the ACNC Bills
On 5 July the exposure draft legislation establiching the charity and non-profit sector was referred to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on
Economics for parliamentary scrutiny over the winter parliamentary break. The Enquiry will also provide for additional public consultation. The Treasury’s Not-For-Profit Consultation page provides access to the two draft bills, the explanatory material and a factsheet which provides a summary of the two bills.
The Committee is inviting interested persons and organisations to make submissions addressing the terms of reference by Friday, 20 July 2012. Information on how to make a submission is available on their website.
Further information on the inquiry (including timeframes, public consultation dates and processes for making submissions) will become available on the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics' website.
ACNC Implementation Report
One of Susan Pascoe's first acts as ACNC Commissioner was to announce the release of the ACNC Taskforce Implementation Report. The report clarifies a number of issues that have been raised by the sector and sets out an implementation plan for the establishment of the ACNC.
It includes details on how the ACNC will:
determine charitable and public benevolent institution status for all Commonwealth purposes
provide education and support to the sector
begin the implementation of a 'report-once, use-often' general reporting framework for charities, and
establish a public information portal with a searchable database on charities.
The Report and related Factsheets are available on the Taskforce website.
NFP Reform Resources
PilchConnect in Victoria have produced a number of resources to help NFP organisations understand the reform process. This includes what the key changes are and how they will be implemented. It also provides a concise, plain language summary of the Federal reform agenda.
The reform package for not-for-profits and charities covers:
Coalition’s response to NFP Reform
Kevin Andrews at an address to the Menzies Research Centre announced that the Coalition wishes to "encourage a culture of philanthropy and giving in Australian life through re-establishing the Community Business partnership to assist Australian charities and community groups by removing unnecessary red tape and costs." They want to "shift the focus of the new ACNC away from endless compliance and regulation to one that encourages innovation, education and best practice in the sector" whilst supporting the ATO as the primary regulator of charities.
In general the Coalition's support for the sector was welcomed; however considerable concern has been expressed regarding the ATO's continuing in its current role of regulating charities. ACOSS and CCA have responded in a media release.
Public Submissions to ACNC's Proposed Operations Paper
The Taskforce has released a Summary Paper of the public submissions that were received in response to the Discussion Paper. Basically there is general support for the establishment of the ACNC however there are a number of concerns around the reporting framework, the information portal and the need to be able to access support and education. There is also concern on how effective the Commission will be if harmonisation cannot be achieved within Commonwealth agencies and between the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments, particularly regarding the potential of the ACNC adding to the existing compliance burden.
Deloitte's on ACNC Reform
Gale Pearce from Deloitte recently spoke at a Macquarie/Deloitte/Aon session for the community sector on the ACNC Reform. She believes that since there has been a delay in implementing the full framework until July 2013, the NFP sector has a duty to shape the outcome of the ACNC reforms by providing significant input and feedback. She identified several concerns:
Commercial activities potentially taxed
The question of whether true harmonisation can actually be achieved
Risk of duplicated reporting
Definition of charity
- "In Australia" provisions
Impact on NFP entities that are not charities
The Implementation Taskforce’s Policy and Education Team has continued to develop further FAQs and now covers the following items:
About the ACNC
They have also established the ACNCTaskforceMailbox to answer more specific questions.
NFP Sector Tax Concession Working Group
Linda Lavarch, the Chair of the NFP Sector Reform Council is chairing the NFP Sector Tax Concession Working Group. The working group includes representatives from the NFP sector and technical experts. It was established in response to discussions at the 2011 Tax Forum regarding whether current support provided through tax concessions to the sector can be better delivered. It is examining NFP tax concessions in terms of their fairness, simplicity and effectiveness, as well as previous inquiry recommendations and ideas presented at the Tax Forum.
Better targeting of NFP tax concessions
The measures to better target NFP tax concessions for new unrelated commercial activities now apply. See 18 April update below for further information.
Announcement of ACNC Commissioner
Susan Pascoe, the Interim Commissioner of the ACNC Implementation Taskforce will be the Inaugural Commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC).
Introduction of NFP Reform and COAG's involvement22 May 2012
Staged Introduction of NFP Reform
David Bradbury, the Federal Assistant Treasurer, has announced the staged (or delayed) introduction of the new regulatory framework. The starting date for the ACNC remains 1 October 2012. However, governance standards, (including the external conduct standards) and the financial reporting framework will now commence on 1 July 2013 with the first financial reports for medium and large registered entities due after 1 July 2014. The ACNC will initially only register charities.
The Government will refer the draft ACNC legislation to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, for an inquiry over the winter parliamentary break. This will allow for further targeted public consultation on the ACNC legislation throughout the rest of May and early June. Government will then have time to consider any recommendations the Committee makes before introducing the legislation later in the year, ahead of the ACNC's 1 October 2012 start date.
Further information is available from the ACNC Commissioner's Column dated 22 May 2012.
The Commission has developed a number of FAQs about the ACNC, including why it is being set up, what it will and won't do, who needs to register with the ACNC, etc. The FAQS are available for the ACNC website.
New COAG Working Party - NFP Reform
At the most recent COAG meeting in April the Terms of Reference and the 2011-12 Workplan for the Not-For-Profit Working Party were endorsed. It is tasked with reviewing, developing and recommending NFP regulatory reform options to COAG including:
considering the adoption or application of a Commonwealth statutory definition of charity
a nationally consistent approach to fundraising regulation
reviewing legal, governance and reporting regulation for the NFP sector
considering approaches to harmonise the test for determining non-charitable activities of charities.
The Working Party has been asked to report to COAG at or before its next meeting and ahead of the Commonwealth introducing the Australian Charities and NFP Commission legislation.
Tax Concession Reform
1 May 2012
Revised Draft of Tax Concessions
Following the initial public consultation in 2011, a revised Exposure Draft and Explanatory Material of the Restating and standardising the special conditions for tax concession entities (including the "in Australia"' conditions) has been released and submissions are due on 11 May 2012. It is anticipated that the draft legislation will be introduced to Parliament in mid-2012.
Treasury has developed a Fact Sheet outlining the content of the revised draft and the main changes.
Further information is available, including how to make a submission.
Tax Reform and ACNC developments
18 April 2012
Budget measure to better target NFP tax concessions
The Federal Government has announced that the start date for the 2011-112 Budget measure to better target NFP tax concessions in relation to commercial activities will be extended from 1 July 2011 until 1 July 2012. The extension will provide additional time for consultation and will reduce the uncertainty for those in the sector who have commenced commercial activities since the 2011-12 Budget.
The extended start date of 1 July 2012 will only apply to new unrelated commercial activities that commenced after 7:30 pm (AEST) on 10 May 2011. Existing unrelated commercial activities that commenced prior to that date will continue to be covered by transitional arrangements as announced in the 2011-12 Budget.
Staffing of the ACNC is now being announced with several names well known within the human services sector, notably Sue Woodward, Director of Policy and Education (previously Director of PILCHConnect in Victoria) and Shirley Southgate, Director Legal (previously Manager, Policy and Good Practice at Office of the Information Commissioner New South Wales and before that Principal Solicitor at Kingsford Legal Centre, UNSW).
The organisation structure has also been released.
The Compliance Framework is currently being developed and the next steps include:
Developing a risk based approach to ensure our resources are focussed on those areas that present the greatest risk to the sector and the ACNC’s objectives
Developing policies, processes and procedures in relation to the use of enforcement powers. The ACNC’s use of enforcement powers will be based on principles of proportionality, procedural fairness and transparency
Building effective working relationships with key law enforcement and intelligence agencies to ensure the ACNC will be in a position to exchange relevant information.
Concurrently with this process they are developing material to ensure that the sector has the information it needs to understand and comply with the Compliance Framework when it is finalised. As part of the “road testing” they are continuing to consult with sector representatives.
NCOSS has prepared an overview of the Federal Government's
not-for-profit reform agenda.This paper will be updated regularly as new
information comes to light.
Amanda Smithers, NCOSS Senior Project Officer
ph: 9211 2599, ext 127