Charities divided over penalties for late filing of accounts, according to survey

Charity Commission consultation finds about half of voluntary sector respondents agree that the penalty for late filing should be suspension of Gift Aid

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

Charities are split over whether they should be penalised for filing their accounts late, a poll suggests

More than 100 voluntary sector organisations were surveyed by the Charity Commission in a consultation covering wide-ranging aspects of charity administration.

Asked if they agreed that late-filers should be reported to HM Revenue & Customs so it can suspend Gift Aid as a penalty, 47 charities agreed, 47 disagreed and six were undecided.

Some of those that disagreed said the penalty would disproportionately affect those charities that use Gift Aid, while having no effect on those that do not. Others said it could jeopardise the independence of the commission.

On the question of whether charities should be fined for late-filing, 50 disagreed while 44 respondents said yes.

Those that disagreed said fining would affect smaller charities disproportionately or that it could prove a disincentive for people to become trustees because they would have to pay the fine.

Even fewer charities agreed with the suggestion that charities should receive incentives to file their accounts early ­– 37 said yes and 48 disagreed with the suggestion.

Instead, charities put forward ideas on how to encourage timely filing of accounts.

Some suggested charities that file their accounts late should be named, while others favoured making the compliance history of charities more prominent on the commission’s website.  

Charities also suggested the commission use its powers to disqualify trustees who consistently file late accounts.

Thirty-three charities said the summary information return should be scrapped, while 18 said it should be retained for charities with annual incomes of more than £1m, as is currently required, and 25 said it should be extended to include charities with annual incomes of more than £500,000.

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