What is an annual return?
An annual return for an independent candidate, group or independent elected member summarises the political donations received as an independent candidate, group or independent elected member during a financial year. We use annual returns to check that entities are complying with funding and disclosure laws including the disclosure of political donations.
Division 3C of Part 12 of the Electoral Act 2002 (external link) outlines the annual return requirements.
Do I need to submit an annual return?
As an independent candidate, group or independent elected member, you are only required to submit an annual return if you have received political donations equal to or more than the disclosure threshold from any single donor during the financial year.
If you have not received any disclosable donations, you should make a written declaration to the VEC Funding and Disclosure Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org confirming that no donations were received that are equal to or more than the disclosure threshold for the financial year and you do not need to submit an annual return.
An annual return is required for the whole financial year or the relevant part of the financial year during which you were a candidate, group or elected member.
When are annual returns due?
You must submit your annual return or declaration that you do not need to submit an annual return by 20 October each year.
You may submit your annual return at any time from 1 July each year.
How do I submit an annual return?
You must submit your annual return using our online disclosure system, VEC Disclosures.
Download a user guide for submitting annual returns through VEC Disclosures:
- Independent candidate or Independent member - annual return user guide (Word, 4.8MB)
- Independent candidate or Independent member - annual return user guide (PDF, 1.4MB)
What information do I need to include?
You must submit the following information in relation to your State campaign account(s) for the financial year (including GST):
- total income
- total disclosed political donations
- total undisclosed political donations (under the disclosure threshold)
- the number of undisclosed political donors for the total undisclosed political donations
When calculating the total amount you received by or on your behalf, only consider the amounts received into your State campaign account(s) and disregard amounts received for Commonwealth electoral purposes.
See more information about State campaign accounts here:
- Information for Candidates (PDF, 392kB)
- Information for Elected Members (PDF, 216kB)
- Information for Groups (PDF, 223kB)
Explanation of requirements
Independent candidates, groups and independent members
The reporting range for the annual return is 1 July to 30 June (inclusive).
The total income refers to the total amount received by you or on your behalf and deposited into your State campaign account.
Total disclosed political donations
The total amount of disclosed political donations that appear on VEC Disclosures. These disclosed political donation amounts must also be included in the 'Total income' field.
When completing the annual return in VEC Disclosures this field is automatically populated and cannot be edited.
Total undisclosed political donations
The total amount of political donations received that have not been disclosed via the VEC Disclosures, including small contributions and funds raised under the disclosable threshold. These undisclosed political donation amounts must also be included in the 'Total income' field.
If the sum of all political donations received from a person or entity during a financial year is equal to or above the disclosure threshold, the annual return must include the following details:
- the full name of the person or entity from whom the amount was received
- the address of the person or entity from whom the amount was received (unless the individual is a silent elector, in which case the address must not be recorded)
- the sum of the amount received.
Number of donors for undisclosed political donations
The number of donors that made a political donation under the disclosable threshold for the financial year.
Amounts received as profit through fundraising must be included in the Total income field. It must also be included in your 'Total disclosed political donations' field or your 'Total undisclosed political donations' field depending on whether the profit amount received from each person was under or over the disclosure threshold.
Goods and Services Tax (GST)
Where a sum includes GST, the reported amount must include the GST.
Small contributions must be included in the 'Total income' as well as the 'Total undisclosed political donations' fields.
Does my annual return need to be audited?
No. It is not mandatory for the annual return of an independent candidate, group or independent elected member to be audited and accompanied by an audit certificate.
If an audit is conducted on your annual return and a certificate is provided, it is suggested that it is from an independent auditor advising that the statement has been audited in accordance with Australian Accounting Standards as specified in section 334(1) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
The audit certificate should state that the auditor:
- was given full and free access at all reasonable times to all accounts, records, documents and papers relating directly or indirectly to any matter required to be specified in the statement; and
- examined the material referred to in paragraph (a) for the purpose of giving the certificate; and
- received all information and explanations that the auditor requested in respect of any matter required to be specified in the statement; and
- has no reason to believe that any matter stated in the statement is not correct.
Can the public see my annual return?
Yes. We are required to publish an annual return summary on VEC Disclosures on or before 31 December each year.
We do not publish donor addresses as they are confidential under the Electoral Act 2002.
What happens if I don't submit an annual return?
If you are required to submit an annual return and fail to do so, you may be fined.
The fine for this offence is 200 penalty units (external link).
Can I get help to complete my annual return?
Yes. Follow this checklist (Word).
If you have any questions, contact the Funding and Disclosure Unit by email to email@example.com or call 131 832.