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General Purpose and Special Purpose Financial Statements

Compare General Purpose to Special Purpose Financial Statements and download a decision tree to assist with deciding what is required of your charity.
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A charity’s financial statements must be either General Purpose Financial Statements (GPFS) or Special Purpose Financial Statements (SPFS).

General Purpose Financial Statements

GPFS are prepared by applying all relevant accounting standards and are normally intended for a wide range of users.

The accounting standards are issued by the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB), and provide guidance for the presentation, measurement and disclosure of financial information for your charity.

Special Purpose Financial Statements

SPFS refers to all financial statements that are not GPFS and are usually intended for a narrow range of users.

Charities submitting Special Purpose Financial Statements must apply the following six accounting standards as a minimum:

  • AASB 101, Presentation of Financial Statements.
  • AASB 107, Statement of Cash Flows.
  • AASB 108, Accounting Policies, Changes in Accounting Estimates and Errors.
  • AASB 124, Related Party Disclosures.
  • AASB 1048, Interpretation of Standards.
  • AASB 1054, Australian Additional Disclosures.

Comparing GPFS and SPFS

The following table compares the key features of GPFS and SPFS.

Table comparing General Purpose Financial Statements to Special Purpose Financial Statements. It shows that if a charity is a reporting entity, it must complete a GPFS and apply all applicable Australian Accounting Standards. The level of detail in the financial statement is high, leading to more transparency and accountability than SPFS. Simplified Disclosures (SDR) are an option. If a charity is not a reporting entity, it can complete a SPFS instead of a GPFS. For an SPFS, a minimum of 6 accounting standards must apply: AASB 101 Presentation of Financial Statements; AASB 107 Statement of Cash Flows; AASB 108 Accounting Policies, Changes in Accounting Estimates and Errors; AASB 124 Related Party Disclosures; AASB 1048 Interpretation of Standards; AASB 1054 Australian Additional Disclosures. SPFS contain less detailed financial information than GPFS which means less transparency and accountability than GPFS. Simplified Disclosures (SDR) are an option.

For more information about the Simplified Disclosure requirements, refer to AASB 1060 on the AASB website and the ACNC’s guidance on the Standards and financial reporting.

Which financial statement type should your charity prepare?

The following decision tree can help a charity to decide whether it needs to prepare a GPFS or SPFS.

Decision tree with questions to assist medium and large charities decide of they should prepare a GPFS or SPFS. This decision tree shows a series of questions: Are your stakeholders widespread? Is management separated from stakeholders? Does the charity have a significant impact on the broad community or represent a broad group? Is the charity in receipt of government grants or reliant on donations or a tax deductible gift recipient? If most of your charity’s responses to these questions are ‘yes’, then the charity is most likely a reporting entity and must prepare a General Purpose Financial Statement. If most of your charity’s responses to these questions are ‘no’, then the charity is most likely not a reporting entity and can choose to prepare either a Special Purpose Financial Statement or a General Purpose Financial Statement.

This decision tree is drawn from one by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) in Enhancing not-for-profit reporting: Part B Enhancing financial reporting (Australia) on page 14.


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Reporting Obligations of Your Charity Part B: Financial Skills for ACNC Reporting Requirements

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