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the Churches – that they be allowed to continue to use their present stocks of pre-printed Gift Aid envelopes with the out-of-date wording, HMRC has made an extremely helpful concession, as follows: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.
[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is copied here with permission as it needs the widest publicity possible before church treasurers start binning their out-of-date Gift Aid envelopes.]