HMRC says charitable tax relief at an all-time high

Provisional figures released today say they amounted to more than £3.6bn last year

HM Revenue & Customs
HM Revenue & Customs

Charitable tax reliefs reached an all-time high of more than £3.6bn last year, new figures from HM Revenue & Customs show.

In provisional figures released today, HMRC said it gave out £3.62bn in reliefs to charities in the year to the end of March and £1.46bn in reliefs to individuals during the same period.

Charities received £3.4bn and individuals £1.44bn in tax reliefs in the previous financial year.

The latest figures included £2.1bn in business rate relief, the statistics reveal, a 9.4 per cent increase on the previous year.

But the amount handed out under the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme stayed flat at £30m, HMRC said.

Charities received £250m in stamp duty land tax, up from £220m in the previous year, and a further £1.27bn in tax repayments, down by £10m, according to the HMRC figures.

Inheritance tax reliefs for individuals amounted to £860m, up from £840m in 2016/17, and payroll giving remained at approximately £40m, the figures show.

HMRC said that higher-rate relief on Gift Aid and covenants for individuals stayed flat at £490m and individuals got £70m in reliefs on gifts of shares and property, also the same as in the previous year.

All the figures are subject to rounding.

Graham Batty, a charity tax specialist at the tax firm RSM, warned that although business rate relief had increased by 9.4 per cent, there were concerns that this figure would fall in the future.

"Given the pressure on their finances, local authorities are beginning to resist granting charities more than the mandatory 80 per cent relief," Batty said.

"They also seem to be starting to look closely at claims: a charity has recently been refused rate relief for some of its charity shops because they were run by a non-charitable subsidiary rather than directly by the charity itself."

Batty also raised concerns that the amount claimed in Gift Aid had "remained fairly static over the past few years".

Earlier this year, HMRC said that charities were missing out on £560m in Gift Aid every year and many donors had a poor understanding of the scheme.

"Digging further into the statistics, it is noted that the greatest value of Gift Aid donations declared on tax returns come from the over-65s," said Batty.

"The increases in personal allowances and tax-free allowances for savings income over recent years mean that many older people now pay less tax – a prerequisite for making a Gift Aid donation – than they did in the past.

"There is a real need for charities, with the help of HMRC, to promote Gift Aid and engage with younger donors."

Topics:
Finance Tax News

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