A charity is an entity established for altruistic purposes that the law regards as charitable. Having charitable status can entitle an entity to certain tax benefits.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC)) currently registers and regulates charities. Charities include most religious institutions, aged persons homes, homeless hostels, organisations relieving the special needs of people with disabilities and organisations that promote culture or environment protection.
The characteristics of a charity are:
- It is an entity (corporation, unincorporated association, trust or partnership) that is also a trust fund or an institution
- It exists for the public benefit or the relief of poverty
- Its sole purposes are charitable within the legal sense of that term, and
- It is non-profit
It is important to note that purposes that are illegal or against public policy are considered ‘disqualifying purposes’ under the new Charities Act 2013, and organisations with those purposes will be ineligible for charitable status. For more information on disqualifying purposes contact the ACNC. If you wish to qualify as a charity, or want to know more about the process, you can contact the ACNC on 13 ACNC (13 22 62), or visit their website.