York CathedralLast week, a NSW Supreme Court decision was handed down regarding the fate of a parcel of land on which a church building stands.  The findings of Lindsay J in this case serve as a timely reminder of the obligations and duties of trustees who hold property in their names, in this context, on behalf of a church body.

Facts of the Case

While some of facts of the case were contentious, the findings from Lindsay J paint a straightforward picture of the events that had occurred:

  • In 1978, five men, being members of a small congregation of Christians who worshipped under the name “The Apostolic Christian Church Nazarene-Sydney” (Church), purchased a property in Arncliffe, NSW (Land) for the purposes of enabling the congregation to worship and pray there.
  • While the Land was purchased in their five individual names, there was no doubt that the Land was purchased and used only for the advancement of religion.  The Judge was satisfied that the five individuals intended to hold the Land as trustees for the Church.
    Continue Reading Trustee Duties v Self-Interest – A Battle over Church Property

UBIT is deadJust weeks before the intended commencement of the “Better Targeting of NFP Tax Concessions” measure, the Acting Assistant Treasurer has issued a press release stating “the Government has considered alternatives to the previous government’s better targeting of not-for-profit tax concessions measure. We have concluded that they are not required at this time”. This news will be welcomed by many charities and not for profit organisations.

The Better Targeting of NFP Tax Concessions, commonly known as the unrelated business income tax (or UBIT), was introduced as part of the 2011-2012 budget and had been delayed for a number of years.

Continue Reading The Unrelated Business Income Tax is (finally!) dead

Tax TimeDoes your organisation turnover more than $20 million annually? If so, there are changes to the New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 (GST Act) that you need to be aware of.

The GST Act requires all entities with over $20 million GST turnover to report monthly and lodge activity statements electronically.

The ATO will continue to send paper activity statements irrespective of an entity’s turnover. However this does not remove the obligation to switch to electronic reporting for entities with over $20 million GST turnover.

Continue Reading ATO changes lodgement requirements for organisations with over $20 million GST turnover

Government Introduces Legislation to Repeal the ACNC

This morning the Coalition Government introduced a suite of legislation to repeal thousands of Acts, Bills and Regulations in an effort to “cut red tape”.

In line with the Government’s pre-election promise, the planned abolition of the ACNC has been tabled as part of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Repeal) (No. 1) Bill 2014 (the Bill). The Explanatory memorandum to the Bill states “the abolition of the ACNC is part of the broader Government red tape reduction and deregulation agendas.”

The proposed abolition of the ACNC is intended to occur through a two stage process; the initial Bill to repeal the ACNC has been introduced to Parliament but (if it is passed) will not take effect until a subsequent Bill regarding replacement arrangements is introduced in the winter sitting period.

Continue Reading Government to Repeal the ACNC

AbolishmentThe Coalition Government has stated that it will seek to abolish the ACNC along with more than 8000 federal laws on 19 March as part of its plan to reduce red tape. This confirms the Government’s pre-election commitment to abolish the ACNC.

Although Minister Andrews has said that the ACNC would be replaced by a National Centre for Excellence “as a fount of both innovation and advocacy” there is still much uncertainty regarding the scope and operation of this Centre. Minister Kevin Andrews has suggested that an evaluation model based on the US Charity Navigator could replace the educative and registry functions of the ACNC. This model is best known for its comparative lists of charities such as 10 super-sized charities, 10 consistently low rated charities, 10 charities overpaying their fundraisers and so on. Much debate regarding the merits of a system which ranks charities has followed and without further clarity regarding the Centre’s objectives, purpose and scope to collect data such a proposal is difficult to assess.

Continue Reading Abolition of the ACNC Takes Shape

ACNCACNC Deadline Approaching

Have you submitted your 2013 Annual Information Statement?

Regardless of size or purpose all charities registered with the ACNC must submit an Annual Information Statement to the Commissioner each year. The first AIS will need to be completed for the 2012-2013 financial year. If your charity has a financial year calendar (ending 30 June), its first Annual Information Statement (AIS) is due on 31 March 2014.

Continue Reading ACNC Annual Information Statement Deadline Approaching

Parliament HouseOn Thursday last week (the last sitting day before the Christmas break), the Senate adjourned debate on the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 (which included the amendment to delay the Charities Act) and ran out of time to return to the debate before rising for the holidays.

This means that the Charities Act which includes a definition of charity will commence on 1 January 2014 as planned. This is in contrast to last week when we expected that the commencement of the Charities Act was likely to be delayed. Usefully, David Locke, Assistant Commissioner at Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), has stated that the ACNC intends to put out guidance for the sector regarding the new definition.

Importantly, charities that are already recognised as having a charitable purpose prior to the commencement of the Act will continue to be recognised as charities in accordance with section 12(k) of the Charities Act.

Continue Reading Charities Act to Commence on 1 January 2014

ACNCEarlier this week, the Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews reconfirmed his plans to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). At the Disability Services CEO conference Minister Andrews stated “to benefit civil society as a whole, the Government has committed to abolishing the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, with repeal legislation to be introduced into Parliament next year”.

This statement is unsurprising as it reinforces the Coalition Government’s stance to abolish the ACNC.

On Wednesday 4 December, Minister Andrews introduced a late amendment to the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 to delay the commencement of the Charities Act 2013 until 1 September 2014. The Charities Act is currently due to commence on 1 January 2014. The Act provides a statutory definition of charity and was passed on the penultimate sitting day before Parliament rose before the election. For more information on the Charities Act please see our previous blog.

Continue Reading Charities Act Delayed and ACNC to be Abolished

ACNCSome Good News From the ACNC!

The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) has just announced that the reporting deadline for the Annual Information Statement (AIS) due on 31 December 2013 for many charities has been extended to 31 March 2014.

Regardless of size or purpose all charities registered with the ACNC must submit an AIS to the Commissioner each year. The first AIS will need to be completed for the 2012-2013 financial year. However, in some circumstances, charities may not report in accordance with the financial year. If this is the case, the charity will need to apply to the ACNC for a ‘substituted accounting period’ by submitting Form 4A.

Continue Reading ACNC Annual Information Statement – 2013 Deadline Extended