26/10/2020

On 17 November 2020, the Assistant Commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) will be revoking the charity registrations of over 300 charities that are currently classified as ‘double defaulters’ if actions aren’t taken by these charities by 16 November 2020. Please check the list of current double defaulters and if your charity’s name is on the list, take action immediately to ensure your organisation’s charity status is not revoked.

In this article we explain what a double defaulter is, how to maintain your charity registration if your charity is listed as a double defaulter and what you can do if your organisation’s charity status is revoked.

Even if your charity is not on the double defaulter list, this is a stark reminder of the importance of complying with your charity’s obligations more broadly. As discussed in our earlier article on compliance, you could almost be forgiven for letting your reporting slip during the challenges of 2020 … almost. Despite the havoc this year has brought, it remains crucial that charities continue to comply with their obligations. Take this as a reminder to check whether your charity’s compliance and reporting obligations are met.

What are double defaulters?

Charities (other than those that are corporations registered with the Office of the Register of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC)) are required to submit an Annual Information Statement (AIS) each year. An AIS is an online form that asks charities a range of questions about their operations and finances. An AIS is submitted online through the ACNC Charity Portal.

Charities that are required to submit an AIS but have failed to do so for two years are known as double defaulters.

To help strengthen the integrity of the charity sector, the ACNC strives to ensure its register of charities is up-to-date and accurate. As such, the ACNC revokes the charity status of double defaulters on a periodic basis. 

How do I know if my charity is a double defaulter?

The ACNC seeks to notify charities listed as double defaulters using the charity’s contact information. If your charity has not updated its contact information with the ACNC, it may not have received correspondence from the ACNC notifying it about its double defaulter status.  

On 19 October 2020 the ACNC published a list of current double defaulters at risk of having their charity status revoked. If you are unsure whether your charity’s AIS reporting is up-to-date, or if you have not updated your charity’s contact details with the ACNC, check the list to see if your charity has been classified as a double defaulter.

Alternatively, you can search for your charity using the ‘Search for a Charity’ link on the ACNC website. Once you click on your charity’s name, the ACNC page for your charity will be displayed. If AIS reporting is not up to date, an exclamation mark in a red circle with the words ‘Charity reporting is late’ will appear under the charity’s name.

To be clear, not all charities with late reporting are double defaulters. Classification as a double defaulter only occurs after two AISs are not submitted. However, regardless of whether your charity is listed as a double defaulter or not, if your charity’s reporting isn’t up to date, you should act swiftly to submit any outstanding AISs.

What should I do if my charity is listed as a double defaulter?

If your charity is listed as a double defaulter but still wishes to maintain its charity status, it needs to act fast. The ACNC is only giving double defaulters until 16 November 2020 to rectify their double defaulter status.

In order to save your charity from having its charity status revoked, you must ensure its outstanding AISs are submitted to the ACNC Charity Portal by this date. If there is a reason why this is not possible, you must contact the ACNC by 16 November 2020 and explain why the outstanding AISs cannot be submitted in this timeframe.

You can contact the ACNC by phone at 13 22 62. Alternatively, you can contact the ACNC in writing using the ACNC online enquiry form.

What if my organisation’s charity status has been revoked as a result of being a double defaulter?

If your organisation’s charity status has already been revoked due to being a double defaulter, it is possible to have charity status reinstated (provided it still meets the requirements for registration as a charity). To do so, your charity must first submit all outstanding AISs. Then it will need to re-apply for registration as a charity through the ACNC Charity Portal.

If you are unsure whether your organisation’s charity status has been revoked, you can check your organisation’s charity status using the ‘Search for a Charity’ link on the ACNC website. Once you click on your organisation’s name, the ACNC page for your organisation will be displayed. If your organisation’s charity status has been revoked, the words ‘revoked’ will appear.

If your organisation is currently listed as a double defaulter or if your organisation’s charity status has been revoked and you wish to re-register, our Charities + Social Sector team can help.

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