Filing your annual return
Charities are required to submit an annual return within 6 months of their balance date (financial year end).
The annual return helps to ensure that we have accurate information about your charity on the register, and broadly aligns the financial information collected through the annual return with what needs to be reported in the financial statements or performance reports under the reporting standards. You will need to submit your completed annual return together with your charity's performance report or financial statements that comply with the reporting standards.
The annual return asks you to check and update your charity’s details (including details of officers and contact information for the charity) and answer some questions.
The annual return asks for the full name, date of birth and home address details of your charity’s officers. The Information Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act 1993 enable agencies, including Charities Services, to collect personal information for lawful purposes connected with a function or activity of the agency. Previously we have only collected an officer’s first and last name. This is not enough information for us to accurately identify officers when we need to. The date of birth and residential address information will not be publicly available, and will only be used by Charities Services and other agencies where authorised by law.
The Privacy Statements in our annual return clearly set out what personal information is collected, what it will be used for, who can access the information, and the consequences of not supplying the information.
For instance, if the identifying information about existing officers is not provided as part of the annual return process, the annual return process will not be complete. Persistent failure to meet the requirements of the Charities Act 2005, including filing an annual return in the prescribed form, can result in a charity being deregistered.
Submit your annual return online
We encourage you to file your annual return online; you can do this by logging into your charity's dashboard. Filing your annual return online costs less than filing on paper. In addition, it’s already partly completed for you using your details from the Charities Register and you can complete your return in stages by logging in and out.
If you do not feel confident completing the form online, view this video that shows you how to log in to your charity's dashboard and navigate your way through the annual return form.
Questions in the updated annual return
This is an outline of the questions that are asked in the annual return. If you complete the annual return online, most general information about your charity will already be there and you can simply check and update.
General information about your charity
- Your charity’s legal and other name (including any trading name)
- The region(s) or country (countries) where your charity operates
- Charity’s registration number
- Postal and street address
- Phone, fax, email, website address and social media (optional)
- Details of the main contact at your charity: name, phone number and email address
- End of financial year/balance date
- If there have been any changes to your charity's rules document.
Officer details - for each officer
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Officer's position (for example, treasurer)
- Residential address.
Note: Date of birth and residential address remains confidential and will not be available on the public register
Purpose and structure
- Your charity's purposes or mission
- Your charity's main activity, sector and beneficiary (collected for statistical purposes)
- A description of the structure of your charity, including any trading operations (if applicable).
- The names (and charity’s registration number, if applicable) of any entities that control or are controlled by your charity for financial reporting purposes.
- The number of paid full-time and paid part-time employees that work for your charity in an average week, and the approximate number of hours they work
- The approximate number of volunteers that work for you in an average week or year, and the average number of hours they work.
You will need a copy of your financial statements or Performance Report to complete the financial information section of the annual return form.
This section asks for information about your charity’s financial position (which covers things like receipts/income and payments/expenses) and financial performance (which covers resources/assets, commitments/liabilities, equity and other similar information). The questions are based on the minimum categories in the new reporting standards. If you need help completing your performance report or want to learn more about the minimum categories, visit the Reporting Standards section of our website.
- The tier your charity is reporting in (This affects the financial information you will be required to include in the annual return)
- Indicate whether your charity's performance report or financial statements have been audited or reviewed, and
- Whether your charity’s financial statements or performance report shows any related party transactions.
In addition, you will need to know whether your charity:
- In its ordinary course of business, lends money to or on behalf of others, or manages money or funds on behalf of others
- Provided goods or services overseas in the last financial year
- Used any business income (for example, from the sale of goods or services) for charitable purposes overseas in the last financial year
- Received donations and used any of its funds for charitable purposes overseas in the last financial year.
Some other information
In exceptional circumstances, applications can be made for certain information to be withheld from the public register.
Read our ‘Restricting information’ page to learn more>