Organisations listed on the Register of Cultural Organisations can receive tax deductible donations. This helps cultural organisations to attract funding from businesses and individuals.
Application to enter an organisation onto the Register of Cultural Organisations
All applications to enter an organisation on the ROCO must be submitted through SmartyGrants.
Following Royal Assent of the Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No.2) Bill 2021, from 14 December 2021 all non-government organisations will have to be registered as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC) to be eligible to apply to the ROCO.
The time taken to assess ROCO applications can take up to six months. This timeframe may be longer depending on the completeness and the complexity of the application.
Organisations with existing applications need to register with the ACNC to enable their ROCO application to progress. Please see Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) reforms below for further information on the new requirements.
Register of Cultural Organisations
The Register of Cultural Organisations is a list of cultural organisations that can receive tax deductible gifts. The register aims to strengthen private sector support for the arts and encourages Australians to contribute to the nation's vibrant cultural life. Australian organisations can be listed on the register if their principal purpose is to promote one of the following cultural activities in Australia:
- visual arts
- community arts
- performing arts
- arts or languages of Indigenous persons
- movable cultural heritage.
The Treasurer and the Minister for the Arts approve new additions to the register. The Office for the Arts administers the register.
Public art galleries, museums and libraries are generally not included on the register because they are approved by the Australian Taxation Office under another deductible gift recipient category.
Supporters of the arts can also make tax-deductible donations to support arts and cultural projects through the Australian Cultural Fund administered by Creative Partnerships Australia. Artists and arts organisations who do not have DGR status are encouraged to consider registering an Australian Cultural Fund project.
Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) reform
On 5 December 2017 the Australian Government announced reforms of the administration and oversight of organisations with DGR status. The changes are designed to strengthen governance arrangements, reduce administrative complexity and ensure continued trust and confidence in the sector.
Major elements of the reforms include:
- Requiring non-government organisations wishing to be endorsed as a DGR to be registered as a charity with the ACNC.
- The removal of public fund requirements for DGRs.
- Transferring the administration of the four DGR registers to the ATO and the ACNC.
Requiring DGRs to be registered as a charity
The Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No.2) Bill 2021 received Royal Assent on 13 September 2021.
From the date of effect, 14 December 2021, a fund, authority or institution, as a precondition for DGR endorsement, will be required to be:
- a registered charity, or
- an Australian government agency.
This means that any non-government not-for-profit organisation will have to be registered as a charity with the ACNC to be endorsed as a DGR.
No further action is required for organisations that are already registered as a charity with the ACNC.
Organisations already on the ROCO but who are not a registered as a charity with the ACNC will have a 12 month transition period, until 14 December 2022, to meet the new requirements to register as a charity. Following this, an organisation with existing DGR endorsement that needs a longer period to comply, may be eligible to apply to the Commissioner for Taxation for an additional three-year exemption.
Organisations already on the ROCO that do not meet the new requirements within the transitional period applicable to them will have their DGR endorsement revoked.
Visit the following ATO and ACNC websites for further information on the DGR reforms and the process for registering as a charity.
Register of Cultural Organisations
Office for the Arts
Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts
GPO Box 594
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6271 7108