Nick Miller and Simon Bowden talk about understanding the new regulator (the ACNC), its power and responsibilities.

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Nick Miller

So Simon, in the charities and not-for-profits place there's a lot of reform proposals on the agenda at the moment and a number of those are in your space, the tax area.  What are some of the examples of what's coming down the pipeline from that perspective?

Simon Bowden

Sure Nick, the most important thing I think is the establishment of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission which will take effect from 1 July 2012, in just a few months time.  This organisation will take over the regulation of charities primarily from the Australian Taxation Office which is currently the de facto regulator for the charities and not-for-profits. So another significant change that the government is proposing to make is by introducing a statutory definition of charities.  Currently we are relying on 400 years worth of case law to determine what's a charity and in the modern world the government thinks that that's a bit inappropriate. So from 1 July 2013 they're proposing to bring in a Commonwealth statutory definition of charity that will require organisations to look at whether they will remain charitable under the new definition, but also provide opportunities for organisations that may not currently be considered charitable by the ATO or by the courts whether they will come within the new definition.  So a lot of organisations should keep that in mind.  Also the ACNC will from 1 July 2017, when the new definition comes into effect, be undertaking a review of all of the people that are registered with them, to see whether they conform with the new definition so organisations should be prepared for some questions from the ACNC from that time.