Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC) Fact Sheet (September 2013)

  • ACNC was created following extensive inquiries and sector consultation over fifteen years including six parliamentary inquiries - all called for an independent regulator - all concluded the ATO should not be the de facto regulator for the NFP sector.  Most initial sector concerns have been addressed with the three ACNC objects being amended to take account of the major issues raised.
  • Pro Bono research of over 1500 respondents released in August 2013 found 81% support ACNC, 87% support register, 90% support report once, use many times, and 93% support a reduction in red tape and compliance costs – all handled by the ACNC.  Only 6% of survey respondents supported a return to the ATO.
  • The ATO supported establishment of independent charity regulator and has no desire to revert to previous arrangements.
  • Without the ACNC the ATO would again become the de facto regulator for the sector. There would be no impetus for alignment or rationalisation of Commonwealth/ State regulation, no central place for regulatory evidence, and the sector would lose a coherent regulatory underpinning. It would entrench the previous regulatory regime littered with duplication and inconsistencies. 
  • Reverting to the ATO would be deeply unpopular with most of the sector and require changes to over thirty pieces of legislation.  Many not-for-profits and other key stakeholders will join campaigns against ending the ACNC and there is greater risk of regulatory non-compliance and revenue implications.
  • ATO did not keep up to date data on the NFP sector.  Through registration and the Annual Information Statements the ACNC will be the first credible source of data on the sector.
  • ACNC is funded at $14 million a year – the ATO had more staff performing the same functions less efficiently and effectively.
  • Removing the ACNC will diminish the opportunity for reducing red tape and duplication, the very opposite of Coalition policy intent.
  • The ACNC has already demonstrated greater efficiency in handling registration matters compared to ATO and has achieved high levels of user satisfaction.
  • 57,957 charities (56,672 passed over by the ATO to ACNC on 6 December 2013) - over 1000 new charities have been registered since establishment.
  • The ACNC serves the public interest. Independent surveys show high levels of public support for the ACNC and for the public Register of charities. The Register provides, for the first time a single, a freely available and credible source of information on registered charities.
  • For the first time in Australia, a freely available credible online register of all charities is providing savings for donors, funders, researchers etc. - over 98% of new applicants have registered on line (providing registration efficiencies).
  • The ACNC has introduced the Charity Passport to enable ‘report once, use often’ across Cwlth agencies.  From 1 June 2013 this is now mandated through changes to the Commonwealth Grant Guidelines.
  • Charity Passport offered freely to states and territories which if agreed to by jurisdictions would create savings to government and sector.
  • ACT and SA have agreed to regulatory and reporting alignment with ACNC and thee are advanced discussion with two other jurisdictions on  reporting alignment
  • ACNC is in dialogue with all State Revenue Offices on using single definition of charity, with charitable registration  by ACNC accepted in all  jurisdictions creating considerable savings to government and sector.
  • All states and territories offered transition to 2015 in which ACNC will accept their existing reports from charities for the purpose of meeting ACNC requirements.
  • The ACNC is already providing information back to the sector on the basis of information provided to it, eg. first 1000 charities. Charities are already populating the Register with information that is being used by the public and funders. 
  • Annual Information Statements require different levels of information based on size and status – most require very minimal reporting and larger organisations usually have the information required readily at hand.  CCA members wanted to provide more rather than less information to the ACNC to drive further red tape reductions and increase public accountability.  The AIS is a small initial impost on charities, but will deliver real benefits to the sector and the community through the charities passport, reduced red tape and other benefits.
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