Annual return factsheet for third-party campaigners

Am I a third-party campaigner?

You are a third-party campaigner if you or your organisation is not a registered political party (RPP), a candidate at an election, an elected Member, an associated entity, or a nominated entity of an RPP and you receive political donations or incur political costs that meet or exceed the amount of the general donation cap in a financial year.

What is an annual return?

An annual return for a third-party campaigner summarises the amounts received and expenditure and debts incurred by a third-party campaigner during the 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?

Yes. The agent of a third-party campaigner must submit an annual return on behalf of the third-party campaigner. In order to be classified as a third-party campaigner, you must have received political donations or incurred political expenditure equal to or more than the general donation cap in a financial year. Therefore, all third-party campaigners must submit an annual return.

An annual return is required for the whole financial year or the relevant part of the financial year during which the third party campaigner you met the definition of a third-party campaigner under the Electoral Act 2002.

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 your annual return at any time from 1 July each year.

How do I submit an annual return?

The RPP's Registered Officer must submit the annual return using the VEC 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?

As a third-party campaigner, 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
  • total non-political donations
  • total expenditure
  • outstanding debts

You must have your annual return audited and include a certificate of audit from an independent auditor.

More information about State campaign accounts.

Explanation of requirements

  • Third-party campaigners
    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 third-party campaigner.

    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 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 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 third-party campaigner that do not require disclosure. For example, dividends on shares, income of real estate holdings, deposits made to the recipient through a deceased estate or funding.

    These examples are acceptable monetary transactions that are not political donations.

    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 third-party campaigner.

    Total outstanding debts

     

    Total outstanding debts incurred by, or on behalf of, the third-party campaigner.

    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

     

    Funding amounts 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.

    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. Your annual return must be audited and include a certificate of audit from an independent auditor, advising that the statement has been audited in accordance with Australian Accounting Standards as specified in s. 334(1) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

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.

You can use this audit certificate template (PDF).

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 do not submit an annual return, 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 disclosures@vec.vic.gov.au or call 131 832.