Replacing the ACNC – an options paper is released

The Federal Department of Social Services (DSS) has released an options paper entitled  'Australia's Charity and Not for profits' that describes plans to replace the ACNC with a National Centre of Excellence and ways of transferring its regulatory functions back to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the ATO.

The paper explains:

  • the current legislative arrangements
  • the government's plans to establish new self-reporting arrangements.  Charities will be required to maintain a publicly accessible website that features the names of responsible persons; details of all funding received from government (Commonwealth, State and Local) and financial reports.  Charities will have until 1 July 2015 to update their websites
  • reinstatement of the previous ASIC reporting obligations for charities that are companies
  • the transfer of charitable-status determination back to the ATO, identifying two options relating to how the ATO might complete this work.  One option proposes an independent panel comprising external experts to provide advice on objections raised by charities that disagree with the initial ATO assessment on the determination of their charitable status.  The second option proposes a separate unit within the ATO responsible for determining outcomes for applicants who objected to findings on eligibility and related tax concessions
  • charities currently exempt from providing financial reports would retain the exemption.  Such charities include small organisations and religious charities
  • the revised compliance arrangements that will involve using the current powers of the states, ATO and APRA, and
  •  transitional arrangements that give charities until 1 July 2015 to comply with the new arrangements.

The paper says that the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Repeal) (No.2) Bill is scheduled to be introduced into parliament later this year, but that the new arrangements for the ATO and ASIC will take effect immediately.

The current national register will be archived, and there is no intention to continue maintaining anything similar.  As result, there will be no need for an Annual Information Statement.

Comments on the paper closed on 20 August 2014.  The department intends to provide a summary of written submissions on its website.

The Federal government is also consulting on the proposed NFP National Centre of Excellence (NCE) as part of the ACNC.  The consultation on the NCE explicitly excludes any issues related to the abolition of the ACNC and stresses that the NCE is not a regulator.

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