Annual return factsheet for registered political parties

What is an annual return?

An annual return for a registered political party (RPP) summarises the amounts that the RPP received and the expenditure and debts it incurred during a financial year. We use annual returns to check that RPPs and other 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?

Yes. As the Registered Officer of a RPP, you must complete and lodge an annual return on behalf of the RPP, regardless of whether the RPP received any political donations or incurred any political expenditure.

An annual return is required for the whole financial year or the relevant part of the financial year during which the RPP was on the register of political parties.

You must also submit an annual return for the RPP’s nominated entity, if applicable.

When are annual returns due?

Annual returns are due 16 weeks after the end of the financial year, which is 20 October each year.

You can submit an annual return at any time from 1 July each year.

How do I submit an annual return?

You must submit the RPP’s annual return(s) using our online disclosure system, VEC Disclosures.

A user guide for submitting annual returns through VEC Disclosures is available here:.

What information do I need to include?

You must submit the following information for the RPP including endorsed candidates, groups or elected members 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
  • total non-political donations
  • total expenditure
  • outstanding debts

You must have your RPP’s annual return audited and include a certificate of audit from a registered company auditor. 

Explanation of requirements

  • Registered political parties
    Term Details

    Financial year

     

    The reporting range for the annual return is 1 July to 30 June (inclusive).

    Total income

     

    The total income refers to 'the total amount received by, or on behalf of, the registered political party'.

    This includes the amounts disclosed in 'Total disclosed political donations', 'Total undisclosed political donations' and 'Total non-political donations'

    Total disclosed political donations

     

    The total dollar 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 dollars 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 individual donors that made a political donation under the disclosable threshold for the financial year.

    Total non-political donations

     

    Total non-political donations are all amounts received by, or on behalf of, the RPP that do not require disclosure. For example, dividends on shares, income of real estate holdings, deposits made to the recipient through a deceased estate, funding, membership fees, annual affiliation fees and/or annual levies.

    These examples are acceptable monetary transactions that are not political donations. They do not need to be deposited into the State campaign account but must be accounted for in the 'Total income' and 'Total non-political donations' fields. More information in relation to State campaign accounts is available.

    If the sum of all non-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.

    Total expenditure

     

    Total expenditure is the total amount of expenses incurred by, or on behalf of, the RPP.

    Total outstanding debts

     

    Total outstanding debts incurred by, or on behalf of, the RPP.

    If the sum of all outstanding debts to 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 and address of the person or entity to whom the amount of the debt is owed (unless the individual is a silent elector, in which case the address must not be recorded)
    • the sum of the amount that is owed
    • whether the amount of the debt is to a financial institution or non-financial institution.

    What about…

    Funding amounts

     

    All money received through public funding, administrative expenditure funding or policy development funding must be reported on the annual return. These amounts are required in the 'Total income' field, as well as the 'Total non-political donations' field.

    Fundraising amounts

     

    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.

    Membership fee, annual affiliation fee and annual levy

    Annual subscriptions paid to an RPP in respect of membership fees of the RPP are considered 'Total income' (and must also be reported in the 'Total non-political donations' field).

    They are not considered a political donation or gift and must not be deposited in the State campaign account.

    Please note: if any of these amounts are deposited into the State campaign account, all disclosure provisions apply and reportable amounts must be disclosed on VEC Disclosures.

    Small contributions

    Small contributions must be included in the 'Total income' as well as the 'Total undisclosed political donations' fields.

Do annual returns need to be audited?

Yes. You must have your RPP’s annual return audited and include a certificate of audit from a registered company auditor with the RPP’s annual return.

The audit certificate must state that the auditor:

  1. 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
  2. examined the material referred to in paragraph (a) for the purpose of giving the certificate; and
  3. received all information and explanations that the auditor requested in respect of any matter required to be specified in the statement; and
  4. has no reason to believe that any matter stated in the statement is not correct.

Can the public see my RPP’s 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 do not submit an annual return(s) for the RPP you may be fined.

The fine for this offence is 200 penalty units (external link).