Date posted: 18/06/2020 3 min read

Relief for reporting and audit deadlines

Here is a summary of the reporting and audit relief being offered by Australian and New Zealand regulators in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Brief

  • The relief varies from blanket deferrals to no-action for non-compliance
  • Some regulators are accepting case-by-case extension requests, so make sure you apply if need be
  • As the situation is moving very fast, all relief is being reviewed regularly and is therefore subject to change

New Zealand

FMA

It is giving Financial Market Conduct (FMC) reporting entities and Managed Investment Schemes (MIS) an additional two months (i.e. six months, rather than four months) to provide their audited financial statements. Currently this relief is for entities with balance dates from 31 December 2019 to 31 July 2020, but this may be reconsidered as the situation develops. Read more on the FMC website.

NZX

The NZX has granted a Class Waiver for NZX listed entities with balance dates between 30 September and 31 July to allow an additional 30 days to prepare and release results announcements, including preliminary interim and full-year financial statements (i.e. 90 days, rather than 60 days). It is also providing an additional two months to prepare and release annual reports, including audited financial statements (i.e. five months, rather than three months). Find out more on the NZX website.

Charities Services

It will not take action on any late annual returns and performance reports/financial statements, but it is asking charities to make contact to request an extension of time if the usual requirement of six months is not achievable. It will also not take compliance action against charities that breach their rules by not holding an AGM. Read more on the Charities Services website.

Companies Office

It will not take any action to remove entities from its registers or take any enforcement action for non-compliance with filing during these times. The Companies Office is the registrar of several types of entities, including companies, incorporated societies, retirement villages and friendly societies. Read updates on the New Zealand Companies Office webpage, and for incorporate societies here.

Real estate trust accounts

Final trust account auditor’s reports are due by 14 July. The Real Estate Authority (REA) is asking auditors that will not be able to meet this deadline to make contact, with details of the circumstances and the date that the auditor’s report can be provided. Read more on the REA website.

Schools

The Ministry of Education (MoE) will not penalise schools if they are unable to submit their audited annual financial statements on time (due 31 May). The Office of the Auditor General is talking to relevant agencies, including the Treasury, about what the current circumstances mean for everyone and how they affect the usual accountability obligations of public entities, including schools. Read more on the MoE website.

Public sector entities

The Controller and Auditor-General announced that the parliament passed legislation on 5 August to extend the statutory reporting time frames by up to two months for organisations with 30 June 2020 balance dates that report under the Crown Entities Act 2004, Crown Research Institutes Act 1992, Local Government Act 2002, Public Finance Act 1989, and State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986. Some other types of organisations, like ports, have had reporting dates amended without the need to change legislation. Read more on the OAG's website here.

Australia

ASIC

It has extended the deadline for unlisted entities to lodge financial reports by one month for balance dates from 31 December 2019 to 7 July 2020. Listed entities will also be able to take one additional month to report for full year and half-year financial reports for 21 February 2020 to 7 July 2020 balance dates. 

It has also adopted a 'no-action' position where public companies do not hold their AGMs within five months after the end financial years that end from 31 December 2019 to 7 July 2020, but do so up to seven months after year-end. For public companies with 1 June 2020 to 7 July 2020 year ends, the 'no action' position also applies where holding an AGM in January or February 2021 results in the requirement to hold an AGM in the 2020 calendar year not being met.

It continues to assess the impact on balance dates after 7 July 2020. Read more on the ASIC website.

ASX

The ASX has issued a class waiver that enables all entities admitted to the official list in the ASX Listing category to have the benefit of the ASIC relief (see above), although this is subject to a number of conditions. Dual-listed ASX/NZX entities admitted to the ASX as Foreign Exempt Listings automatically qualify for the extension to their filing deadlines under the NZX Class Waiver (see above). The ASX has granted an equivalent class waiver to dual-listed ASX/NZX entities incorporated in New Zealand and admitted to ASX as standard ASX Listings.

ACNC

It has approved blanket extensions to charities whose returns are due between 12 March and 30 August 2020. These charities will now need to submit their returns by 31 August 2020. This advice will be monitored as the situation progresses. Eligible charities will have their due date updated on the ACNC Charity Register. Read more on the ACNC page.

ATO

It has applied an automatic deferral for the lodgement of 2019 SMSF annual returns (SARs) that are due on 15 May and 5 June 2020 until 30 June 2020 for all SMSFs. Read more on the ATO page.

Trust accounts

Lodgement deadlines for trust account audits are driven by state and territory-based requirements, which can vary widely. Most have responded with relief ranging from blanket lodgement deferrals to consideration of case-by-case applications for extensions of time.

View the relief available for real estate agents, conveyancers and other trust account audits

View the relief available for legal practitioner trust account external examinations.

Incorporated associations

Reporting and audit requirements for incorporated associations that are not ACNC registered charities are set at the state or territory level and can vary widely. Some are offering various forms of relief and this is summarised in the attachment.