Answers to some frequently asked questions about the reporting requirements.
What changed and why?
Financial reporting standards were introduced in 2015 to provide consistent, transparent information to the donating and taxpaying public. The reporting standards are based on a tier structure that reflects the size and complexity of the charity. Previously, there were multiple ways that you could present your financial statements.
How do we know what tier we are in?
The tier that you report under is determined by your annual expenses or operating payments for the previous two financial years. Go to Which tier will I use? for more information.
Do we still need to complete an Annual Return?
Yes. You still have to complete an Annual Return and attach financial statements, but now these financial statements must be completed in line with the reporting standards.
Do we have to report to both Charities Services and the External Reporting Board?
No. You will continue to report to Charities Services each year but the financial statements submitted along with the Annual Return need to meet the standards set by the External Reporting Board.
How do we notify Charities Services of our reporting tier?
You notify us of your reporting tier through a dedicated section of the annual return. The online annual return populates according to the information required by your particular tier. It is over to you to determine which tier you are eligible to use and best fits your circumstances.
Your organisation’s governing body may want to pass a separate formal resolution to stipulate which reporting tier will be used, to help with continuity if there is a change of treasurer or accountant and to formally record the decision. An example minute could read, "The Committee will report to Charities Services as a Tier 4 charity because our operating payments are below $125,000 and we use cash accounting".
What is a Performance Report?
This is the name for the information Tier 3 and Tier 4 charities file in addition to their Annual Return. It is called a “Performance Report” rather than “financial statement” as it also includes non-financial information in the form of a 'Statement of Service Performance'. A Performance Report is a set of statements that collectively tells a charity’s story over the past financial year.
Currently, Tier 1 and Tier 2 charities do not have to provide non-financial information. However, the External Reporting Board has issued a standard which will require these charities to also provide this information. The requirement comes into effect from 1 January 2021. Go to Service Performance Reporting for more information.
What is a reporting entity?
A registered charity is a reporting entity. Some charities set up different entities to carry out their various activities (for example, a second hand shop, or a trust to manage properties). For the purposes of financial reporting, these things are considered part of the ‘reporting entity’ and you need to include information about them in your performance report. You should carefully consider whether any entities associated with your charity are under your control and should therefore be included.
How have you ensured the Annual Return changes are acceptable to the sector?
We consulted with representatives of the charitable sector when we developed the new Annual Return form. We wanted to make sure that the new form was as easy as possible to understand and use, and that it collects information that supports transparency and accountability in the sector.
Where can I find more information?
Information about the reporting standards, including any new resources, is included in our regular Update newsletter – click here to subscribe. The website is updated as resources are developed, and news alerts are sent to let charities know about workshops or other opportunities to learn more about the reporting standards.