Notifying agencies when your charity’s details change

Posted on November 20th, 2019 by Claire Thornett

The nature of charities, especially small ones, is that they are often run by volunteers who may not be aware of all necessary steps required to effectively handover control of a charity when board or committee members change.

In an ideal world, government agencies and systems would talk to each other, but unfortunately that is rarely the case. So even if you notify the ACNC of certain changes to your charity, you will probably also need to notify the ATO of the same information.  

For instance, if you don’t arrange for the departing Public Officer to personally notify the ATO of the new Public Officer, you may find it very difficult to update the Public Officer afterwards, and you may need to engage a tax agent to help you.

Equally important, if you’re on the board of a charity and resign, you should ensure that you’re removed as a contact from the ABR, ACNC and ASIC (if necessary). This is especially important if you’re a director of a company as you can be personally liable for outstanding GST as well as PAYG withholding amounts (where the charity has employees).

Below is a summary of the necessary notifications and bodies you need to contact when changes occur within your charity.

Australian Tax Office

You should notify the ATO of changes to the following as soon as possible.

  • Name
  • Authorised contact person
  • Financial institution
  • Public Officer (via ABR)
  • Winding up the charity

Australian Business Register (ABR)

You’re legally require to notify the ABR of changes to the following within 28 days:

  • Address (postal, email or business)
  • Associates (e.g. trustee, shareholders, directors)
  • ACN or ARBN
  • Public Officer

 Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC)

You must notify the ACNC within 28 days for medium and large charities; or 60 days for small charities of changes to the following:

  • Responsible persons
  • Changes to charitable purpose or a breach of the ACNC governance standards
  • Legal name
  • Address (postal, email or business)
  • Change to governing documents (and provide a copy)
  • Winding up the charity

Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)

Registered charities don’t need to report annually to ASIC or notify ASIC about changes to officeholders (directors etc). However, they do need to notify ASIC within 28 days of changes to the following:

  • Resignation or removal of an auditor
  • External administration (liquidation)
  • Apply to deregister your company


Common trap!

Only companies that are also registered charities with the ACNC are exempted from the normal ASIC reporting requirements. If your charity is a trust with a corporate trustee, the trustee is unlikely to satisfy the charitable endorsement requirements and so won’t be able to register with the ACNC. That means the company will still need to complete its annual information and ASIC must be notified within 28 days of any changes to the trustee company including the following:

  • Director and Secretary details (resignation, appointment, personal details)
  • Changes to the constitution
  • Removal or appointment of an auditor
  • Change of addresses
  • Change of shareholders or members

As well as the above, you should also consider whether or not you’ll need to notify your financial institution, insurance providers etc. of changes to authorised contacts. A simple process of changing a signatory on a bank account can turn into a time wasting nightmare where the authorised contact has departed the organisation before arranging for a new signatory to be added to the account.

Keep in mind that when contacting the ATO you’ll need to pass through a multi-step process of authenticating your identity. You’ll need your charity’s details as well as personal details that will help identify you as an individual.

Additionally, before changes can be processed, the ATO records must already show you as an authorised contact for the charity. This is where people often get stuck and need to get help from a tax agent. If you’re having difficulties with the ATO or ACNC, the team at WLF will be able to help you get things sorted out.


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Notifying agencies when your charity’s details change

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