You are a third-party campaigner if you or your organisation is not:
- a registered political party (RPP)
- a candidate at an election or an elected member
- an associated entity
- a nominated entity of a political party
An annual return is a summary of money received, spent and owed by a political participant in a financial year. For third-party campaigners your annual return relates to your state campaign account kept by the third-party campaigner. More information about state campaign accounts.
We use annual returns to check that third-party campaigners are complying with all funding and disclosure laws. This includes disclosing relevant political donations.
Division 3C of Part 12 of the Electoral Act 2002 (external link) outlines the annual return requirements.
Do I need to submit a return?
Yes, all third-party campaigners must submit an annual return. To qualify as a third-party campaigner you must have received political donations or incurred political costs equal to or above the general cap in a financial year. This is information all political participants must submit to us in an annual return.
Your agent must submit the return on behalf of the campaigner. More information about agents.
A return is required for the whole financial year. If you only met the conditions to be a third party campaigner for some of the year you must submit a return for that period.
When are annual returns due?
20 October each year.
Submissions open 1 July each year.
How do I submit a return?
On VEC Disclosures. You must create an account before you can submit your return.
Help with VEC Disclosures
Expand the accordion below for instructions on how to submit your return. You can click the pop-out icon in the bottom right corner to open the instructions in a new window.
What information is required?
Relating to your state campaign accounts 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 amounts received other than political donations
- total expenditure
- outstanding debts.
You must have your annual return audited and include a certificate of audit from an independent auditor.
Explanation of requirements
The reporting range for the annual return is 1 July to 30 June (inclusive).
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 amounts received other than 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:
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 amounts received other than political donations
Total amounts received other than 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 amounts received other than political donations 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:
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:
Funding amounts must be reported on the annual return. These amounts are required in the 'Total income' field, as well as the 'Total amounts received other than political donations' field.
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.
Your annual return must be audited and include a certificate of audit from an independent auditor. This certificate must state the return has been audited in accordance with the Australian Accounting Standards as specified in s. 334(1) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
The certificate must state the auditor:
a) 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
b) examined the material referred to in paragraph (a) for the purpose of giving the certificate; and
c) received all information and explanations that the auditor requested in respect of any matter required to be specified in the statement; and
d) 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 return?
Yes. We are required to publish annual return summaries on VEC Disclosures by 31 December each year.
We do not publish donor addresses as they are confidential.
What happens if I don’t submit a return?
If you do not submit an annual return you may be fined.
The fine is 200 penalty units.