Wednesday August 2018

The ACNC legislation passed in 2012 allowed for the creation of minimum external conduct standards that are required to be met by registered charities.

To date, this issue seems to have been in the government’s too hard tray but Treasury has now issued draft external conduct standards and is seeking submissions on them.

The draft regulations are intended to be a principles based set of minimum standards of conduct, governance and behaviour that ACNC-registered charities must comply with when operating outside Australia. There is no exception for basic religious charities (unlike the exception that exists for basic religious charities in respect of governance standards).

Details of the draft external conduct standards can be found at the Treasury website. And interested parties can submit responses up until 21 September 2018. In addition, Treasury is proposing to hold meetings with interested parties and should you wish to be involved you can express your interest via email to externalconductstandards@treasury.gov.au by 17 August 2018.

We expect that these external conduct standards may have some significant practical implications for charities operating outside Australia. We recommend that you carefully review these to see whether they will have any implications for your charity and, if so, whether it would be appropriate to lodge a submission.

Treasury seems to be focusing on the activities of charities and other NFPs operating or controlled outside Australia with the release of a draft ruling on the “In Australia” requirements in July 2018.

Should you have any questions or should we be able to assist please don’t hesitate to contact Bill d’Apice of our office.

On 11 July 2018, the ATO published draft Tax Ruling TR 2018/D2 – Fringe benefits tax: benefits provided to religious practitioners.

The public is invited to provide feedback to TR 2018/D2 until 24 August 2018.

On the same date TR 2018/D2 was published, the ATO’s previous Tax Ruling on this topic – TR 92/17 – which was published in 1992 was withdrawn.

Since 1992, there have been numerous changes to both the law and to the nature of contemporary religious practice – the most significant of which is the establishment of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) in 2012.

The establishment of the ACNC means that determining whether an entity is a religious institution is now as simple as checking whether it has been registered as a charity with an “advancing religion” sub-type.

TR 2018/D2 contains a number of examples of contemporary real life scenarios to help understand whether benefits provided to religious practitioners are in respect of their pastoral duties or for directly related religious activities and therefore exempt from fringe benefits tax.

Although TR 2018/D2 is still in draft Ruling, the ATO has advised that it may be relied upon to the extent that if a person underpays tax as a result of them relying upon the
Ruling, they will still have to pay the correct amount of tax once known but will not have to pay any interest or penalties that would otherwise be applicable.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss the draft Ruling or its application to you or if you would like any help submitting feedback to the draft Ruling.

The Second Edition of the Church Administration Handbook is now available to purchase online.
The handbook outlines how the complex institution that is the Catholic Church in the modern world
is structured and functions.

Written by experts in ecclesiastical and civil law, the Church Administration Handbook is an invaluable resource for:

  • managers of the church’s temporal affairs
  • administrative staff in parishes, schools, hospitals and other church institutions
  • members of finance councils and boards
  • seminarians and others preparing for leadership roles in the church
  • professional advisers to church bodies, civil lawyers and accountants
  • journalists and members  of the media who write about the church.

About the Authors:
Fr Brian Lucas is the National Director of Catholic Mission (the Pontifical Mission Societies in Australia).
Fr Peter Slack is Parish Priest of St Mary’s Parish, Casino, in the Diocese of Lismore.
Mr Bill d’Apice is our firm’s chairman of partners and has experience acting as an adviser to
the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, various dioceses and religious congregations.

Order the Church Administration Handbook (2nd Edition) online at www.stpauls.com.au for $49.95.