Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Gift Aid declarations – a helpful concession by HMRC

At the end of a very long consultation about the precise wording of the Gift Aid declaration HMRC published a new series of template declaration forms to be used by charities from April 2016. The intention of the new wording is to emphasise to donors that, in order for the charity to claim Gift Aid on their donations, they must have paid tax at least equal to the amount claimed. It was assumed that the new wording would be obligatory from that date; however, in response to requests from charities – mainly, but not exclusively, the Churches – that they be allowed to continue to use their present stocks of pre-printed Gift Aid envelopes with the out-of-date wording, HMRC has made an extremely helpful concession, as follows:

“Following approaches made to HMRC by various charities and churches that hold stocks of pre-printed Gift Aid donation envelopes that were ordered and printed just before the new Gift Aid declarations were published on our website, it has been agreed that charities, churches, cathedrals, parishes etc. can use up their current stock of pre-printed Gift Aid collection envelopes beyond April 2016.

Our guidance will continue to recommend that charities introduce the new wording by April 2016, because we want to reduce the numbers of non-taxpayers that currently complete Gift Aid declarations.

The Gift Aid legislation has not changed and consequently previous versions of the Gift Aid declaration and Gift Aid envelopes used by donors after 6 April 2016 will still be valid and can be accepted by charities and churches” [our emphasis].

The e-mail concludes by asking the original recipient to forward the message to his network of contacts within the Church of England. But its interest is much wider than that, so we thought we should publicise it on the blog.

The concession extends to all charities but it is likely to be of particular importance to Churches because, unlike the vast majority of secular charities, they have weekly collections during services. Nevertheless, we would agree with HMRC that charities and Churches should, if at all possible, introduce the new wording by April 2016, if only in the interests of good housekeeping.

Frank Cranmer

[This was originally posted on 10 November 2015 on the Law & Religion UK blog but is copied here with permission as it needs the widest publicity possible before church treasurers start binning their out-of-date Gift Aid envelopes.]

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 at 1:14am GMT | TrackBack
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I hope that when churches re-print their gift aid envelopes they will discontinue the practice of putting the gift aid declaration on the outside of the envelope as that requires parishioners to disclose whether or not they pay tax and for those in poverty who don't pay tax it can be an embarrassment.

Indeed, I dislike the modern use of gift aid envelopes on the collection plate altogether since, when the collection is blessed, all parishioners ought to be able to see the gifts being offered to the Lord in their totality. It also means that a record is being kept of how much each parishioner has given and that seems wrong.

Personally, I don't think the extra 20% income is sufficient to offset the harm caused by the use of gift aid envelopes during collection in services.

Posted by: Kate on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 at 3:17am GMT

In our situation these envelopes are only used for occasional donors, or money offered by visitors.

The regular givers in the congregation (who use envelopes) normally have a FWO envelope (which just has a number on it). The only person that knows the correspondence between the individual and the number is the Gift Aid administrator who records the information and amounts for the purposes of reporting to HMRC.

@kate: when the collection is blessed, all parishioners ought to be able to see the gifts being offered to the Lord in their totality.

Which is not the case when people give via standing order or bank transfer. Some people think that these people should put an empty envelope in the plate as not to draw attention to the fact, or to discourage people from thinking that they are not giving at all!

Last Sunday's gospel may apply.

Posted by: Kennedy on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 at 9:50am GMT

Other churches simply do not take up a Sunday collection in the service. Regular church attendees/members are encouraged to give by direct debit. Visitors are asked not to feel obliged to give, but if they want to there is a plate at the back after the service.

I think I like that way best...

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 at 1:07pm GMT

It is good to give. It is essential for our spiritual health to give. We are a society of considerable wealth, most of us are in the top 1% in global terms, and the only way to stop such riches rotting our souls is to give some of it away.
The cult of secrecy that some would prefer is simply to protect the guilty. We may need that accommodation to help some give, but let's not make such a grubby compromise into some high principle.
Please give whether your gift is known or not (it's always known to God) and don't think there must be a pure way of giving. Give to the church and give elsewhere. Give to charities and to individuals. Be generous, the CofE suggests 5% to and through the church, which leaves another 5% at least to other causes.
Give and don't count the cost and don't fuss about confidentiality!

Posted by: RevPeterM on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 at 4:34pm GMT

And whatever you give, please, PLEASE, write your postcode legibly on the envelope! #Treasurer

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 at 7:29pm GMT

"The cult of secrecy that some would prefer is simply to protect the guilty. We may need that accommodation to help some give, but let's not make such a grubby compromise into some high principle."

I don't think anyone here is advocating for a "cult of secrecy". I don't think anyone is suggesting anything "grubby" either.

Do you think that it is only the shame of a public collection plate which enforces some to give?

I've seen that taken to extreme and it's nasty; really nasty. In a Tanzanian church I attended when I lived there each family attending the church was expected to give a certain amount of money to the church every month (let's say it was 2000 shillings, I can't remember).

At church services there would be an announcement as to which families had paid their "dues" for that month and from which families money was still "owing". I can remember it so clearly: "M Mosha [family]: 1000 shillings, bado [not yet (Kiswahili)] 1000 shillings".

Sorry, but that sort of shaming is a disgusting way to encourage giving.

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Thursday, 12 November 2015 at 11:40am GMT

Well, RevPeterM, all I will say is that if I visit a church which uses GiftAid envelopes, I don't give because I feel that identifying the source of gifts is profoundly un-Christian

Posted by: Kate on Thursday, 12 November 2015 at 6:57pm GMT

Churches have to make it easy to give. When we do baptisms outside of the main service we hand out specially printed envelopes along with the order of service when people arrive. They say "My gift in thanksgiving for the baptism of ............." They have proved a very popular way of giving, people do like writing the child's name on the envelope, and they like it that others can't see what they give. We simply leave a plate at the back (or, best of all, get a youngster to hold it). Occasionally, if they've not brought money, people take the envelopes home and bring them back another time. We also hand out special envelopes for weddings, but not at funerals.
Our giving from occasional offices has more than doubled. (But I will check the gift aid wording)
Simple, popular and effective.

Posted by: Nancy Goodrich on Friday, 13 November 2015 at 8:07am GMT
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