New checklist for charities published as HMRC online Gift Aid system goes live

Umbrella bodies issue guidance on using new service, as Sir Stuart Etherington of the NCVO warns that many charities remain unprepared for September changeover

HMRC
HMRC

A group of charity umbrella bodies has published a checklist to help organisations claim Gift Aid under HM Revenue & Customs’ new online system. 

Charities Online, which goes live today, will replace the existing claim forms, although HMRC will introduce a form that will allow charities to submit applications on paper. The old form will still be accepted until September.

Charities must ensure that the right people in their organisations understand the changes, according to the checklist published by the Charity Finance Group, the Charity Tax Group, the Institute of Fundraising, and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, together with the donor support body Stewardship.

It says charities should check whether they need to connect their databases directly to HMRC’s computers, or make claims by uploading data via a standard HMRC spreadsheet, using the Government Gateway system.

It also says charities must be aware of changes to the information that must be submitted to HMRC. Charities will need to provide donors' addresses in addition to their name, date of donation and the amount given.

The organisations reiterated concerns that the timescale for getting the new processes in place was challenging and that many charities were underestimating what was involved.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said: "The move to online Gift Aid is welcome. In the long term it has the potential to create efficiency savings for charities and for HMRC. In the short term though, we are concerned that some charities might struggle to get to grips with the new system by HMRC’s September deadline.

"NCVO and our partners are doing everything we can to get the message out there to the sector. The race is now on to ensure that the estimated 100,000 charities who claim Gift Aid are aware and ready by September."

The checklist says charities should:

  • Ensure the right people in their charity know about the changes and when they will happen.
  • Read HMRC’s guidance on Charities Online, available on the HMRC website.
  • Make sure they involve IT colleagues and decide which of three new options – an online claim form, claim using own database, claim using paper form – they will use.
  • Check which of the following steps they should take: register with the Government Gateway; download and start using the standard HMRC spreadsheets; speak to software suppliers or internal software development teams; order the new paper forms from HMRC Charities
  • Get their Gift Aid claims up to date and check that their Gift Aid declarations remain valid.
  • Ensure their systems are collecting all of the required information for a valid Gift Aid claim, including donors’ postcodes.
  • Make sure their Gift Aid processes are robust, as HMRC will be better equipped to scrutinise Gift Aid claims.
  • Check if they can benefit from the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme. 

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