Survey to assess Gift Aid rules for admission fees

A survey is being conducted to discover whether new Gift Aid rules for charities that charge admission are costing them money.

The move comes after one small charity claimed it had lost £40,000 since the law changed last April.

Before then, charities such as zoos and museums could ask visitors if they would consider the ticket price as a donation and fill in a Gift Aid form. But now attractions must charge an extra 10 per cent of the ticket price to claim tax back.

"The feedback I have had so far is that the cost of administering Gift Aid under the new rules barely offsets the money charities get back, and in some cases is actually losing organisations money," said Christine Melia, director of Tourism South East, which is conducting the survey.

"As a result, many are simply not claiming it. Instead of creating a level playing field, as HM Revenue & Customs had hoped, the gap between large and small attractions has widened."

Helen Smith, operations director at Magna Science Adventure Centre in South Yorkshire, estimated its takings were down by £35,000 and that implementing the new rules had cost a further £5,000 in staff costs.

"We have chosen to ask people to pay 10 per cent more, but it's hard to explain to them why," she said. "People don't really understand it and think it's some sort of con, so won't do it. It's a ridiculous system."

Melia added that Gift Aid was worth about £15m to the sector. "Gift Aid is not the problem; it's the way it has to be administered," she said.

A spokesman for HMRC said he could not comment until the survey had been completed.

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