Charity Commission launches consultation on cutting Gift Aid to charities that file accounts late

Sam Younger, the regulator's chief executive, says he hopes responses will help 'set the agenda for change'

Sam Younger, the commission’s chief executive
Sam Younger, the commission’s chief executive

The Charity Commission is asking for views on whether Gift Aid should be cut for charities that file their accounts late.

A consultation on the information the commission collects from charities, published today, asks whether the regulator should provide the details of the offending charities to HM Revenue & Customs to enable it to withhold the money.

The consultation, published today, says the idea could not be taken forward by the commission alone because it requires a change in the law and would cost money, but the regulator says it wants to get views on the matter.

The commission first floated the idea in its submission to Lord Hodgson’s ongoing review of the Charities Act 2006.

Today’s consultation, called Register of Charities: a review of the information collected from charities, also suggests the idea of the regulator fining charities that submit their returns late or putting a flag on the register to highlight those that filed early.

This idea was trailed by Sam Younger, the commission’s chief executive, at a public meeting in Birmingham last week.

The paper asks whether the commission should include information on the register about charities’ complaints policies, membership of umbrella bodies, the countries where they run projects or send money, and whether they own or lease land or buildings and if these are used for the charity’s purposes.

It calls for views on existing thresholds for registration and asks whether all charities claiming tax reliefs or exemptions should be required to register. At present, charities with incomes below £5,000 do not have to register and various other groups are exempted or excepted from registration.

The consultation closes on 24 July. A summary of responses and the commission’s decisions on the proposals will be published on its website later this year. Any alterations to the information collected from charities made as a result of the consultation would apply for information collected from 2013 onwards.

In a statement, Younger said: "This consultation is not about a quick fix. Some of the issues and questions we are exploring would require changes to legislation or accounting regulations in order to be taken forward. We do not have the power to make such changes ourselves, but we hope that people will use the opportunity to give their views on charity information and help set the agenda, both for short-term and longer-term change."

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