The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) will conduct a Deductible Gift Recipient status review later in 2020. The review will examine the eligibility and entities of 57,600 registered charities and the ongoing entitlement to Commonwealth tax concessions. Registered charities report income of $142 billion and employ more than 1.2 million staff.

The ATO is providing the ACNC with additional funding of $2.7 million from 1 July 2020.The charity regulator advised the government that it expects to review two per cent of charities a year (equating to approximately 500 charities a year).

Over 15,000 charities have been removed from the Charity Register since the ACNC was established in 2012. Some 667 complaints about registered charities were recently provided by members of the public, with other major sources including: other government entities, media reports, and past and present charity employees. The ACNC’s categorisation of the concerns received shows that private benefit, poor governance or management and criminal or improper purposes feature the most often.

In 2017 some 747 charities made errors and were sent a please explain notice by the ACNC investigations and regulatory section. These errors existed on the Charity Register and had to be corrected as they related to charities’ reported revenue, assets and number of full-time employees. Issues include inconsistencies between the financial information provided by charities in their Annual Information Statements and in their Annual Financial Reports, Governance Standards, including whether the charity had any related party transactions and identifying any private benefits to an individual. The ACNC enforcement powers can make enforceable undertakings, make warnings about further compliance actions or issue directions.

The ACNC lack of actions may lead the general public to conclude that the ACNC is failing in its duties and not taking appropriate action — which may also have an adverse effect on public trust and confidence. Public disclosures are vital, as some charities are no longer fulfilling their primary purpose or are increasingly becoming an obstacle to further development and progression within a community, they sometimes make questionable appointments of CEOs, their boards, management, third party consultants and senior staff.

Of concern is the lack of prosecutions regarding registered charities and terrorism financing or organised crime links. Also, charities that sent or received money from overseas tax havens. The ACNC’s records indicate that 83 matters were identified as requiring investigation as a result of its proactive compliance projects, 53 from the Terrorism financing, 19 from the Disqualifying purpose, 10 from the Private benefit, and one from the Private Ancillary Funds.

A recent ACNC survey found that there has been a steady decline in trust and confidence in Australian charities. The bureaucrats must maintain, protect and enhance public trust and confidence in the sector.