by: Philip Ruth FCA
Are you involved with a community organisation?
One of the key areas of our work is for ‘not-for-profit’ entities. These are essentially entities engaged in community-type activities, such as churches, charities and schools. They extend to aged care and residential facilities, land protection entities and animal welfare groups. Even the organisation that controls the block of apartments you live in.
Before we go on, we use the word ‘entity’ to describe any organisation covered by this article, regardless of the legal structure used to run that organisation.
You might not know that even though these types of entities raise money, educate our kids, and look after our families, they can and do have responsibilities involving reporting to state and federal agencies.
These reporting rules also apply even if the entity is run largely or fully by volunteers. So, if you or a family member is an office-bearer in one of these entities, there is an obligation on the entity to meet its obligations.
Depending on how your entity has been set up, it may need to report to one government body, or, as we see more these days, multiple state and federal authorities. Here are our top 4: the Australian Taxation Office (link), state Consumer Affairs departments (link), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) (link), and the newest (and fairly long-winded sounding) co-ordinator of many ‘not-for-profit’ entities, the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC) (link).
Reporting may include ‘financial’ and ‘non-financial’ reporting. You may need to prepare financial reports, and have them audited. Some entities can have their reports ‘reviewed’ rather than audited.
To prepare financial reports, you will need to keep records that record and explain your transactions. Financial records include invoices, receipts, cheques and documents that record these, including bank statements.
Non-financial reports can relate to fund-raising activities, and require documents to be put on the public record.
It is likely your entity will need to hold an annual general meeting (AGM), where the reports will be presented. There are time limits for holding an AGM.
Depending on how your entity has been set up, here are 10 documents you may also need:
- Income Tax Return
- Annual Information Statement
- Investment strategy
- Business Activity Statements
- Annual GST Return
- Annual Return
- Annual Statement
- Personal insolvency declarations
- Submission of financial statements to annual general meeting
- “Form 1”
If you have to lodge documents with government agencies, note there are time limits to lodge. The time to lodge is usually a fixed number of days after the end of the year. There are also lodgement fees applicable to lodging some documents.
A couple of final notes:
Even though your organisation may not have a legal requirement for an audit, office bearers have a responsibility to their organisation to ensure it complies with the law and follows best practice. This can include having a financial audit conducted by a qualified, independent auditor every year.
And remember, your entity would probably have been set up with some form of governing rules. These outline how your organisation is run, how office bearers are elected and removed, and financial reporting requirements. Hopefully, you still have these rules, or someone will know who has them or where they are. It might be worthwhile storing these types of documents, and other historical documents such as registrations and licensing numbers, on-line rather than hoping the paper copy will be handed to whoever needs it.
And some final advice if we may:
If you are involved with an organisation, don’t assume everything is in hand, taken care of or that someone else has done it.
Get advice on your entity’s structure and legal requirements.
Remember you have responsibilities.
Give us a call for a copy of our corporate governance checklist (insert link here?) and to chat about we can help.