HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Charities has recently published updated guidance on Gift Aid declarations and has provided new model declarations to be used by charities that receive donations.
The key change clarifies the rules around donors’ confirmation that they will pay enough tax to cover all the donations they plan to make that year.
It has always been the case that donors must pay enough tax to cover all of their charitable donations and not just the donations made to that particular charity at that particular time. The new model declarations aim to ensure that the donor understands the consequences if they have not paid enough tax to cover all the donations they make under Gift Aid. By incorporating the required information set out in the guidance on the Gift Aid declaration form, charities can be certain that HMRC will not challenge the associated Gift Aid claim on the grounds that the donor gave a valid declaration.
The Gift Aid declaration does not need to incorporate all the information set out in HMRC’s model declaration, so long as the charity provides the required information to donors in some way. HMRC suggest that incorporating the information on the form is the most straightforward way for charities to ensure that the donor’s Gift Aid declaration is valid.
Where written gift aid declarations are used, the declaration should include:
- the name of the charity;
- the donor’s name;
- the donor’s home address;
- whether the declaration covers the present donation only or donations already made and to be made in the future;
- a statement or confirmation by the donor that Gift Aid is to apply – a tick box is sufficient for this; and
- confirmation that it has been explained to the donor that they must pay at least as much UK income tax and/or capital gains tax (for the year of the donation) as the amount that will be claimed by all the charities they donate to.
There has been some confusion about whether this change would apply immediately or retrospectively, but HMRC has now confirmed that charities do not need to change their existing Gift Aid forms immediately; HMRC will continue to accept Gift Aid claims on donations made using forms based on the old wording until 31 December 2012. However, where possible, charities should seek to incorporate any additional information required under the new guidance as soon as possible, or amend their processes to ensure that staff and volunteers are providing the required information to donors.
Where a charity has already received a Gift Aid declaration based on the old wording, they do not need to ask the donor to supply a new declaration with the new wording to support that donation for gift aid purposes. But, it is important to note that the change applies to new donations and is effective immediately.
Charities will now also need to retain declarations received from donors for six years, instead of four years, as was previously the case. This change won’t apply retrospectively, but charity staff that administer donations should be aware of the change going forward.
Blog by Ruth McNaught, Solicitor at Harper Macleod.