HMRC says cuts may delay online Gift Aid claims

Charitable organisations criticise the government for postponing plans to process Gift Aid claims online

Giff Aid
Giff Aid

HM Revenue & Customs has indicated it will not be ready to process Gift Aid claims online in the near future.

Online filing was one of the main topics of discussion at the latest meeting of the Gift Aid Forum, a discussion group involving charity umbrella bodies and the Treasury.

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, raised hopes before the meeting last month by saying that Gift Aid going online did "seem to be the future". But a spokesman for HMRC told Third Sector last week that although it recognised the benefits of online filing, lack of funding could cause delays.

"Public spending cuts mean funding for new IT systems is limited and an online filing system for charities is only one of many important priorities for HMRC," he said. "HMRC is continuing to explore how it might offer online filing in the future."

Lee Grant, tax-effective giving project manager at the Institute of Fundraising and a member of the Gift Aid Forum, said online Gift Aid was a "no-brainer". But he said HMRC had told him moving the process online was not on its radar - even though the forum agreed it was a good idea. "It would reduce human error and speed up the process, saving both charities and HMRC a huge amount of time and money," he said.

Cath Lee, chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition, said it was disappointed by the delays in Gift Aid reform. "There are enormous efficiencies to be had by organisations of all sizes," she said.

Richard Bray, a member of the management committee of the Charity Tax Group and regulatory and taxes manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "The government has encouraged charities to be more technologically savvy, but there seems to be a reluctance to invest in technology at the HMRC end."

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