Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) is the independent national regulator of charities. The ACNC has been set up to achieve the following objects:

  • maintain, protect and enhance public trust and confidence in the sector through increased accountability and transparency;
  • support and sustain a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative not-for-profit sector; and
  • promote the reduction of unnecessary regulatory obligations on the sector.

Role of the ACNC

The ACNC:

  • registers organisations as charities;
  • helps charities understand and meet their obligations through information, guidance, advice and other support;
  • maintains a free and searchable public register so that anyone can look up information about registered charities; and
  • is working with state and territory governments (as well as individual federal, state and territory government agencies) to develop a 'report-once, use-often' reporting framework for charities.

The ACNC is responsible for determining charity status for all federal tax purposes. As part of its status determinations, the ACNC also decides whether a charity is a public benevolent institution (PBI) or health promotion charity (HPC).

The ACNC will be responsible for administering tax concessions relevant to charities, including:

  • income tax exemption
  • Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) rebate or exemption
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) charity concessions
  • Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status.

The ACNC’s relationship with other government agencies

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) remains responsible for deciding eligibility for charity tax concessions and other Commonwealth exemptions and benefits.

There are also many other government agencies that regulate charities and other not-for-profits. For example, government agencies may provide grants and other funding. They may also regulate particular services provided by charities, such as aged care or education.

In Western Australia the Department of Commerce regulates Incorporated Associations and Charitable Collections Licences.

Important: It is relevant to note that charities or organisations that solicit charitable donations in Western Australia are still required to obtain a Charitable Collections Licence from the Department of Commerce.

Registration with the ACNC DOES NOT preclude this requirement. See Fundraising for more information.

Is your Association or Charity Registered with the ACNC?

If your organisation was recognised (endorsed) by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as a charity able to receive charity tax concessions before 3 December 2012, it was automatically registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). This means you don't need to re-register.

The ACNC now registers organisations as charities while the ATO remains responsible for deciding your organisation's eligibility for tax concessions.  You can check if your organisation has been automatically registered by searching the ACNC Register.

You can also check whether your organisation is registered as a charity and which tax concessions your organisation currently receives from the ATO on ABN Lookup.

As part of the automatic registration process, your charity's information has been transferred from the ATO and the Australian Business Register to form its initial entry on the ACNC Register.

Applying for tax concessions from the ATO

Registration with the ACNC is voluntary. However, ACNC registration is now a prerequisite for charities to access charity tax concessions.

A charity must be registered with the ACNC before it can receive any charity tax concessions from the ATO. Many charities may also be eligible to apply for deductible gift recipient (DGR) status. Some DGR categories are only available to registered charities.

You can apply for charity tax benefits including DGR status with the ATO when applying to register with the ACNC.

After the ACNC has decided your charity status, they will pass on your application for tax benefits including DGR status to the ATO. The ATO will decide whether your organisation is eligible.

The ACNC offers a number of key services, including charity registration, a searchable charity register listing registered Australian charities, education and guidance materials. You can keep up-to-date with changes to the ACNC by subscribing to the ACNC Commissioner's weekly column.

For more information concerning Charities and Taxation, visit the ACNC website at www.acnc.gov.au.