National Standard Chart of Accounts

Standard Chart of Accounts (and data dictionary)

Statement of Intent

This Standard Chart of Accounts (SCOA) and Data Dictionary are designed as a tool to assist nonprofit organisations, and funders (including government departments and agencies).  The initial design was for those small to medium non government organisations (NGOs) which receive government funding without the benefit of internal professional participation.  It has become apparent that others may find the SCOA of benefit especially in the use of the data dictionary.  A number of medium to large organisations have taken the data dictionary as a guide for their charts of accounts and modified to suit and where appropriate adding extra accounts that are not defined in the SCOA.  Some organisations have other requirements which require expansion into sub accounts for extra items and use of cost centre accounting for organisational projects and programs (both funded and unfunded).

This SCOA provides a consistency in accounting categories and terms used within NGOs.  In turn, this allows government departments to aggregate and compare financial data for policy development and administration costs are significantly reduced in both the government and not for profit (NFP)sectors. 

The numbering in the SCOA is flexible. It is guided by a number of commercially available accounting packages and all accounts mentioned will not be required by all organisations that use the chart.  The overall numbering system follows a generally accepted principles approach of Assets = 1, Liabilities = 2 etc.  Expenses are not further classified but rather included in an alphabetical order.  This approach accommodates the multiple categories that any organisation may encounter especially in respect of acquittals to government agencies.  Many organisations make acquittals to several departments and consensus prevailed with the alphabetical approach as most acceptable and flexible.  This design is suggested to report in the “flattest” form for acquittal to departments and may be collated to meet the reporting requirements of internal management, the organisation and other various stakeholders.

There are references to the current Australian Accounting Standards (and by default, IFRS) and these references are as included on the Accounting Standards Board website in June 2010.  Updates to these references will need to occur on a regular basis.  There is also reference to the relevant legislation items both nationally and state based.  Each jurisdiction has different legislation, regulations, model rules and/or constitutions which relate to the formation requirements of NGOs.  The primary legislation for each jurisdiction is: Australian Capital Territory (ACT) - Associations Incorporation Act 1991; Commonwealth (Cth) - Corporations Act 2001; New South Wales (NSW) - Associations Incorporation Act 2009; Northern Territory (NT) - Associations Act 2003; Queensland (QLD) - Associations Incorporation Act 1981; South Australia (SA) - Associations Incorporation Act 1985; Tasmania (Tas) - Associations Incorporation Act 1964; Victoria (Vic) - Associations Incorporation Act 1981; Western Australia (WA) - Associations Incorporation Act 1987.  Other legislation relating to fundraising, gaming, collections or charitable collections are included at various data dictionary account entries (as applicable).

The SCOA is intended to complement or supplement the legislation as much as possible and acknowledges that there are some variations in requirements of organisations which may be required to be reflected in a SCOA.  

The SCOA is not a reporting tool but the basis to assist organisations in multiple report formats.  The SCOA and Data Dictionary have been developed over a number of years through consultations with the NFP sector, including NFP peak bodies and advisors with various government agencies at all levels. . 

This document is the culmination of the SCOA documents created for each of the states and territories, excluding the ACT.  The May 2011 version of the NSCOA aligns these jurisdictions with the requirements of Regulatory Reform of the Not-for-Profit Sector Implementation Plan Milestone 2010-11 Stage 2. The ACT and the Commonwealth have not been included in this version (other than to mention the formation legislation) but they have attested that both jurisdictions are compliant with the otherwise nationally consistent SCOA including gaming and fundraising elements.

A pdf or excel version of the NSCOA is available at this Link

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