Seven of the UK’s largest fundraising charities, including the disability charity Scope, have told HM Revenue & Customs that their IT systems might not be ready to claim Gift Aid under a new system next month.
If they miss the deadline, the charities would face a delay in receiving Gift Aid payments from HMRC.
Charities Online, a new web-based system for claiming Gift Aid, will require organisations to submit claims using an online form.
A transition period is currently in operation in which charities can use both the old paper form and the new online system to claim, but that period will come to an end at the start of October.
Charities that want to submit claims more than 1,000 lines long must have their own software that is capable of interacting with the HMRC database. HMRC said that 470 charities regularly submit claims of more than 1,000 lines and would have to use the software-based system. All other charities will be able to submit their claims using an HMRC spreadsheet.
A member of Scope’s finance team, who did not give her name, told a Charity Tax Group meeting last week that it was likely that Scope would not meet the deadline because the charity was "having major problems setting up" and that "a third party has fallen down on its obligations".
She said Scope uses Raiser’s Edge software, provided by the software company Blackbaud.
Asked about Scope’s comments, Azadi Sheridan, product manager of European markets customer relations management at Blackbaud, said in a statement that his company was "very aware" of the changes to Gift Aid and had "made it our priority" to ensure that charities would still be able to claim Gift Aid on 1 October.
"We’ve added the Gift Aid online submission to the most recent version of the Raiser’s Edge," he said.
He said some customers would receive the upgrade automatically, while others could "just download the latest patch from the Blackbaud website, install it on their server and roll it out to users".
He said anyone who was not clear about how to do so could contact his customer support desk.
Peter Mills, programme manager of Charities Online, said at the seminar last week that he had received calls from seven large charities, including Scope, who said they would have problems submitting Gift Aid claims, and asked any others who were facing similar problems to call him. He said that each of these charities would receive a personal response from HMRC.
He said 70 suppliers had expressed an interest in developing software for large charities.
"Our team are aware of 25 who have delivered and another 25 who have set a delivery date before the deadline," he said. "We’re trying to chivvy the other 20 along."