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 ( 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).