Charities will have until the end of the year to make changes to Gift Aid declarations to comply with guidance published earlier this month, according to HM Revenue & Customs.
Tax specialists last week expressed concerns about the new rules because an HMRC statement accompanying the new guidance did not make it clear whether charities would have to make those changes immediately, or whether they would have to seek retrospective changes to previous declarations.
A spokesman for HMRC said today it had received dozens of phone calls to its helpline complaining about the changes.
"HMRC will continue to accept Gift Aid claims on donations made using forms based on the wording in the old HMRC model declaration until 31 December 2012," he said.
"Where a charity has already received a Gift Aid declaration based on the old wording in the guidance they do not need to get the donor to supply a new declaration with the new wording.
"Gift Aid declarations do not need to incorporate all the information set out in HMRC’s model form if the charity had provided that information to donors in a different way, such as if volunteers explained Gift Aid rules verbally using a set script including all the necessary information."
Bill Lewis, a tax specialist at law firm Bates Wells & Braithwaite, said he had no sympathy with HMRC over the volume of complaints it had received.
"They just released a statement with no explanation," he said. "They should have made all this clear in black and white from the start."