Responsibility for lodging returns lies with the financial controller of the associated entity.
The financial controller is defined by the Act as:
Section 314AEA of the Act governs the lodgement of annual disclosures by associated entities.
The financial controller of an associated entity must within 16 weeks after the end of the financial year furnish to the AEC a return in the approved form.
The Associated Entity Disclosure Return (the return) requires disclosure of the following information covering the financial year from 1 July to 30 June:
The disclosure threshold for the 2015–2016 financial year is for amounts of more than $13 000. This figure is indexed annually.
A 'nil' return should be lodged or a 'nil' entry disclosed where an associated entity has no transactions or no transactions applicable to a particular part of the return.
An associated entity that incurs political expenditure (as defined in section 314AEB of the Act) in excess of $13 000 must also lodge a Third Party Return of Political Expenditure.
Political parties, donors to political parties and 'third parties' which incur political expenditure also have annual disclosure obligations. Election returns are required from all House of Representatives and Senate candidates, jointly endorsed and unendorsed Senate groups and people or organisations that make donations to candidates.
Political parties and their associated entities may be subject to a compliance investigations by the AEC to assess the completeness and accuracy of lodged disclosure returns.
Please note that a number of state and territory jurisdictions have their own disclosure schemes, which are separate to the Commonwealth disclosure scheme. State electoral office websites.
Associated Entities can prepare and lodge their returns online the eReturns portal. The easiest way to lodge your return accurately and on time is to use the eReturns portal, it is quick, secure and allows importing/exporting of files which eliminates transcription errors. To assist with completing a return online, the eReturns Associated Entity Quick Reference Guide, a step-by-step guide is available. See Appendix 4 for more information.
If associated entities are unable to lodge a return online via the eReturns portal the relevant forms may be downloaded. Alternatively, associated entities can contact Funding and Disclosure at firstname.lastname@example.org and forms can be emailed, faxed or mailed to the associated entity.
Reports extracted from the associated entity's accounting system that follow the format of the tables in the return and which contain all required information listed below, may be attached to the return as an alternative to transcribing that information onto the return.
The completed and signed return may be lodged by mail or facsimile or may be scanned and emailed. Please ensure the front page of the return is signed by the financial controller of the associated entity.
The return covers the financial year 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016. Where an associated entity ceases to be an associated entity during the financial year, it is still required to lodge an Associated Entity Disclosure Return.
The AEC will advise financial controllers of associated entities of their obligation to lodge a return following the conclusion of the financial year. Financial controllers should ensure their contact details as recorded by the AEC are up-to-date.
Completed returns must reach the AEC National Office in Canberra by 20 October each year. Where 20 October falls on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, the return must reach the AEC National Office in Canberra by the next business day.
The AEC has no legislative discretion to extend this deadline.
The names of all associated entities that fail to submit a return by the due date will be published on the AEC website and/or in the AEC's report to Parliament.
The Act imposes penalties for failure to properly complete and lodge a return. The AEC provides support, including this guide, to assist associated entities to comply with their disclosure obligations.
The AEC deals with non-compliance as appropriate to the circumstances, including possible referral to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for commencement of legal action. Refer to Appendix 3 for information relating to offences under the Act.