Annual returns FAQ

Updated 20 Mar 2015

Registered political parties, MLAs and associated entities are required to lodge an annual return with the Electoral Commissioner no later than 31 August after the end of the relevant financial year. This will apply for the 2014/2015 annual return and future annual returns.

If a registered political party, an MLA or an associated entity only operates as a political entity for part of the relevant financial year, their annual return would only cover the period during which they operated as a political entity. For example, an MLA who was elected part way through a financial year would only need to submit an annual return covering the period in which they served as an MLA.

See the following questions for what needs to be included in an annual return.

Penalties apply for failing to lodge an annual return by the due date, for submitting an incomplete return and/or for deliberately submitting a false or misleading return.

Only actual transactions that take place during the financial year are to be reported. Non-cash transactions must also be included (for example gifts-in-kind). These transactions should be appropriately valued.

All amounts reported are to be GST inclusive.

PAYG withholding and superannuation payable amounts should be reported. However, book entries such as accruals (for example, provisions for long service leave, depreciation, and the like) are not required to be disclosed.

Payments made by cheque should only be reported if they have been presented. Entities operating cheque accounts should undertake a bank reconciliation before completing the return to ensure that only those payments actually made are included.

Refer to the Gifts FAQ to determine how to report party membership fees and monies received from fundraising events.

Gross figures must be used. For example, a fundraising event that took $1,500 with costs of $1,000 for a profit of $500 should have the full $1,500 included in the total receipts (with this further broken down into gifts and other receipts if necessary) and $1,000 included in the total payments.

Registered political parties are required to lodge an annual return listing:

  • The total amount received in the financial year, broken down into “gifts” and “other receipts”;
  • The total amount of anonymous gifts received;
  • The total value of free facilities given to the party for routine meetings of the party, and the date each use of free facilities use was provided;
  • The total amount of payments made during the financial year;
  • The total amount of debts (including debts in dispute) outstanding as at 30 June; and
  • The name and address of any person or organisation to whom such a debt of $1,000 or more is owed as at 30 June, and the amount owed.

If the party has received an amount, or sum of amounts, totalling $1,000 or more from the same individual or organisation during the financial year, the party must also record:

  • The name, address and ABN (if applicable) of the giver;
  • The receipt date, value and type (ie gift, gift-in-kind or other payment) of each amount that contributed to the total sum; and
  • If the amount is a gift-in-kind, a description of the gift, the monetary value of the gift and a description of how the gift was valued.

From 3 March 2015, a new concept of “free facilities use” has been introduced. “Free facilities use” means a gift of the use of facilities for a routine meeting of the entity receiving the gift. It includes the use of a room and anything reasonably necessary for conducting a meeting in the room, but does not include any food, drink or other gift associated with the use of the facilities. The use of free facilities does not need to be included in the regular quarterly reporting of gifts received of $1000 or more. Although the value of each supply of free facilities does not need to be separately recorded in relation to each date of receipt in the annual return, the party must declare the total value of any free facilities the party received in the financial year from each provider, the name of the provider of free facilities, and the date of each provision of a free facility.

The reporting agent should ensure all relevant financial transactions of the party, including all party branches, are included in the return.

Reporting agents of parties lodging annual returns covering a financial year in which an ACT election has been held should be aware that monies donated to, paid by or owed by or on behalf of a candidate endorsed by the party are deemed to be made to, paid by or owed by the party, and should be reported in the party’s annual return.

Any public funding received by a party should be reported as a receipt. Affiliation fees paid to a party, as well as any levies imposed by a party upon its elected representatives, should also be reported as receipts.

MLAs are required to lodge an annual return listing:

  • The total amount of gifts received in the financial year, including gifts received by MLAs in their capacity as MLAs and in their capacity as Ministers;
  • The total amount of anonymous gifts received;
  • The total value of free facilities given to the MLA for routine meetings, and the date each use of free facilities use was provided;
  • The total amount of payments relating solely or substantially to electoral expenditure made during the financial year;
  • The total amount of debts (including debts in dispute) relating solely or substantially to electoral expenditure outstanding as at 30 June; and
  • The name and address of any person or organisation to whom such a debt of $1,000 or more is owed as at 30 June, and the amount owed.

If an MLA has received a gift, or sum of gifts, totalling $1,000 or more from the same individual or organisation during the financial year, the return must also record:

  • The name, address and ABN (if applicable) of the giver;
  • The receipt date, value and type (ie gift of money or gift-in-kind) of each gift that contributed to the total sum; and
  • If the amount is a gift-in-kind, a description of the gift, the monetary value of the gift and a description of how the gift was valued.

MLAs are only required to report amounts received that are gifts received by the MLA in his or her capacity as an MLA, or gifts received by MLAs in their capacity as Ministers.

An MLA is only required to disclose payments and outstanding debts that are made or incurred by the MLA in his or her capacity as an MLA for a purpose that relates solely or substantially to electoral expenditure. Such payments and debts do not include the use of any funds provided to an MLA by the Legislative Assembly to assist the MLA in exercising his or her functions as an MLA.

Although the value of each supply of free facilities does not need to be separately recorded in relation to each date of receipt in the annual return, an MLA must declare the total value of any free facilities received by the MLA in the financial year from each provider, the name of the provider of free facilities, and the date of each provision of a free facility.

Associated entities are required to lodge an annual return listing:

  • The total amount received in the financial year, broken down into “gifts” and “other receipts”;
  • The total amount of anonymous gifts received;
  • The total value of free facilities given to the entity for routine meetings of the entity, and the date each use of free facilities use was provided;
  • The total amount of payments made during the financial year;
  • The total amount of debts (including debts in dispute) outstanding as at 30 June;
  • The name and address of any person or organisation to whom such a debt of $1,000 or more is owed as at 30 June, and the amount owed; and
  • Where any payment during the financial year was made to, or for, the benefit of, a party or MLA, out of funds generated from capital of the associated entity, the return must record the details of all persons or organisations who made capital deposits to the entity (unless the relevant capital deposits have been disclosed in a previous return).

For annual returns for 2014/2015 and later, if an associated entity has received an amount, or sum of amounts, totalling $1,000 or more from the same individual or organisation during the financial year, the entity must also record:

  • The name, address and ABN (if applicable) of the giver;
  • The value, receipt date and type of amount received (ie gift, gift-in-kind or other payment); and
  • If the amount is a gift-in-kind, a description of the gift, the monetary value of the gift and a description of how the gift was valued.

Details of payers and amounts received are not required to be separately reported where:

  • The associated entity is licensed under the Liquor Act 2010 and the amount received is for the supply of liquor or food in accordance with the license, and it is not more than reasonable consideration for the supply; or
  • The associated entity is licensed under the Gaming Machine Act 2004 and the amount received is for the playing of gaming machines in accordance with the license.

Note that amounts received for the above purposes will still need to be included in the total amount received. Transactions by subsidiaries of the associated entity (as per the definition of related bodies corporate under the Companies Act) must be included in the return.

No. A political party registered at both the Commonwealth and ACT levels cannot meet its ACT reporting obligation by submitting to the ACT Electoral Commissioner a copy of its Commonwealth return or audited financial statements. All parties registered in the ACT must complete the return provided by the ACT Electoral Commissioner.

Yes. If an MLA, a registered political party or an associated entity ceases operating as a political entity during a financial year, they are still required to submit an annual return covering the part of the year in which they operated as a political entity. Similarly, entities that commence operating as a political entity partway through the financial year are only required to submit an annual return covering the relevant period.

When calculating start and end dates for disclosure periods in an election year:

  • Those MLAs who were MLAs before polling day and are re-elected, are taken to have continued to be MLAs between polling day and the declaration of the poll;
  • The term of office of each new MLA begins the day after the election of the MLA is declared; and
  • MLAs who do not contest the election, or who stand for election but are not re-elected, cease to be MLAs on polling day.

No. The 2011/2012 financial year was the last year for which donors were required to submit an annual return.