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Charities & Not-For-Profits Law in Australia

ACNC Commences Operation

Posted in Compliance, Fundraising, General, Governance, Liability & Risk, Tax Exemptions & DGR Status

ACNCSummary – The Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission (ACNC) legislation has received royal assent and the ACNC has commenced operation.

Today the Governor General assented to the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission Act 2012 and the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission (Consequential and Transitional) Act 2012 (ACNC Acts).

Who is regulated by the legislation?

Although the title of the legislation extends to charities and Not-For-Profits, at this stage the ACNC Acts only cover “charities”, with the possibility for Not-For-Profits (who are not charities) being regulated under the ACNC Acts at a later stage.

What is a charity?

Until a statutory definition of charity has been finalised (with a briefing paper expected early in 2013 and the definition likely to take effect on 1 July 2013) a “charity” will be understood to encompass organisations for: the relief of poverty, advancement of education, advancement of religion and other purposes beneficial to the community (including childcare, self-help and contemplative orders).  In other words, the existing common law interpretation of what constitutes a charity will continue to apply until 1 July 2013.

What action should my charity take?

If you would like to be registered under the ACNC then we recommend that you:

  1. Check that your organisation has been automatically registered;
  2. Check that the correct registration sub-type has been applied;
  3. Confirm whether basic religious charity status should be applied;
  4. Apply for a substituted accounting period (if you do not wish to report in accordance with the financial year);
  5. Apply for registration, if your organisation has been self assessing (e.g. religious institutions);
  6. Familiarise yourself with your new obligations such as the duty to notify the ACNC of changes and the new obligations on directors; and
  7. Check your operational and financial records are in order as these may be checked at any time

What if I don’t want my charity to be regulated by the ACNC?

Registration with the ACNC is voluntary. If your charity has been automatically registered you have 6 months to opt-out. However, registration will be a necessary prerequisite for charities to access Commonwealth tax concessions and other concessions, exemptions and benefits.

More information

More information is available on the ACNC’s website (www.acnc.gov.au) or you can call 13 ACNC.

For advice specific to your charity’s needs please contact Bill d’Apice (Partner), Chris Curran (Senior Associate) or Anna Lewis (Lawyer).