Non-government organisations (NGOs)
Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) Registers Reform
On 28 June 2023, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Refining and Improving our Tax System) Act 2023 became law. The amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 transfer administrative responsibility of 4 unique Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) categories from other government departments to the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
This includes the Overseas Aid Gift Deduction Scheme (OAGDS) DGR register.
The changes take effect from 1 January 2024.
The legislation contains transitional provisions to ensure organisations currently endorsed as DGRs under OAGDS continue to be endorsed if they continue to meet eligibility criteria.
Before the transition
Until 1 January 2024, the OAGDS will continue to be administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
After the transition
From 1 January 2024, the ATO will assess charities’ eligibility for developing country relief funds or organisations.
DGR registers reform background
The ATO already administers 48 of the 52 DGR general categories set out in Division 30 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. These changes mean the ATO will administer all DGR categories and this will:
- enable consistency of administration
- reduce red tape
- simplify the application process for organisations seeking DGR status.
DFAT and the ATO are working together to ensure a smooth transition in administration. The ATO will also develop refreshed guidance to support the sector through the transition.
On 29 June 2023, The Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury announced the DGR registers reform introduced under the Treasury Laws Amendment (Refining and Improving Our Tax System) Act 2023, had now received Royal Assent and the four unique DGR registers will be transferred from the respective Ministers to the ATO from 1 January 2024. Read the full media release: Deductible Gift Recipient Reforms Implementation Delay
More information about the latest tax law and policy reforms is on the ATO website.
Will this affect the OAGDS status my organisation currently holds?
Existing OAGDS status will not be affected by the transfer of the administration of OAGDS to the ATO.
Can I still apply for OAGDS?
Organisations planning to lodge an application should note the OAGDS DGR register is to be transferred to the ATO from 1 January 2024. Transition arrangements are currently in place whereby new applications for OAGDS can be lodged with DFAT for an eligibility check, but they will be forwarded to the ATO assessment team for a full review after 1 January 2024.
Update to list of developing countries
On 20 March 2022, the Foreign Minister declared Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary as developing countries for the purposes of the Overseas Aid Deduction Scheme (OAGDS) in response to the Ukraine crisis. This enables approved organisations to issue tax deductible receipts for donations to support Ukrainian refugees in those four countries. Approved organisations’ aid activities must directly relate to support for Ukrainian refugees in those countries in order to be eligible.
The list of developing countries has been updated to now include Ukraine’s border countries: Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary. The list also reflects recent amendments by the OECD DAC to their list of ODA recipients, including removal of Antigua and Barbuda.
External Conduct Standards
The External Conduct Standards (ECS) are a set of standards that came into effect in July 2019. They are administered by the ACNC and govern how a registered charity must manage its activities and resources outside Australia.
The ECS require charities to take reasonable steps to ensure appropriate standards of behaviour, governance and oversight when undertaking activities or providing funding overseas.
They are intended to promote transparency and provide confidence that resources sent, or services provided, overseas reach legitimate beneficiaries and are used for legitimate charitable purposes. The ECS also seek to protect vulnerable people overseas. All registered charities that operate overseas, including those classified as Basic Religious Charities, must comply with the new ECS.
The ECS covers:
- How charities control their funds, goods and other resources overseas
- The need for an annual review of overseas activities and record-keeping
- Anti-fraud and anti-corruption
- Measures aimed at protecting vulnerable individuals.
All Australian charities operating overseas on development activities must comply, regardless of the size and scope of the overseas aid activity.
The ECS apply, in addition to the existing ACNC Governance Standards.
Where to find more information
Visit the ACNC website for more detail about the External Conduct Standards.
Should you require assistance or have any questions, please contact us by logging into the online application system and submitting an enquiry through the link below or by email to the address below.
Online application system: OAGDS online application system enquiry
Overseas Aid Gift Deduction Scheme
*Please note from 1 January 2024, the ATO will assess charities’ eligibility for developing country relief funds or organisations.
The OAGDS enables Australian organisations to issue tax deductible receipts for donations to their overseas aid activities. These activities must be to support aid activities in countries that are declared as 'developing' by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Members of the Australian community can then claim their donation as a tax deduction.
OAGDS is one part of the process for obtaining endorsement as a DGR. The DGR process is managed by the ATO. For more information, visit the ATO website.
The OAGDS Eligibility Criteria contain conditions that organisations need to meet in order to be declared as an 'approved organisation' by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The OAGDS Eligibility Criteria are available below.
The OAGDS Guidelines assist organisations to understand the OAGDS Eligibility Criteria and application process, as well as the details and supporting evidence organisations can submit for each OAGDS Eligibility Criteria. The OAGDS Guidelines are available below.
The OAGDS Frequently Asked Questions provide organisations with additional information on the process to be approved under the scheme. The OAGDS Frequently Asked Questions are available below.
All applications will be assessed under the OAGDS Eligibility Criteria and Guidelines. Please review these documents prior to commencing an application. The Eligibility Criteria include the following pre-eligibility requirements.
To be eligible to apply for OAGDS the organisation applying must:
- have a voluntary governing body, and
- be a registered charity with the ACNC and conform to the ACNC Governance Standards and External Conduct Standards.
The OAGDS application system is available online. Organisations are able to provide details and supporting evidence that address the OAGDS Eligibility Criteria in the Application Form after registering in the system. The Application Form and supporting documentation are used for assessment purposes. A preview of the OAGDS application form is available below without registering in the system.
The OAGDS online application system can be accessed through the link below: