Whilst the Gift Aid scheme is not undergoing the kind of changes it experienced in 2006, it is changing again and it’s important to understand how these changes will affect your organisation.
Up until this year, Gift Aid claims have been processed manually, with claimants being required to compile, print-out and submit details of their claims to HMRC via the postal service. Using this current method of submission, claims are paid within 21 days of receipt. From April 2013, this is set to change in favour of an automatic system, aimed at expediting the process – both in terms of the length of time applications take to create and to process.
How will Gift Aid be claimed from April 2013?
Gift Aid claimants will no doubt be pleased to learn that the current, labour-intensive method of manual claim submission will no longer be the only option. An online portal, entitled Charities Online, will come into effect from April 2013, allowing claims to be processed via the internet without a piece of paper or a postage stamp in sight.
As an existing Gift Aid claimant, how will the changes affect me?
In short, they don’t really have to, if you don’t want them to. For claimants who do not wish to change from the postal method of submission which is currently in place, that option will remain.
In this scenario, the only thing changing will be the form itself, with the current R68 forms being replaced by new ChR1 forms. HMRC have no plans at present to discontinue this practice as the provision must exist for all eligible organisations to claim Gift Aid, irrespective of whether they have internet access or not.
For those who wish to utilise the new Charities Online facility, the apparent benefits are twofold:
A significant reduction in the amount of time charitable organisations will need to spend on claim creation;
The complete removal of postal costs and the additional time expenses associated with such. This may be seen by some as a nominal financial expense (paper, ink and postage) but consider also the environmental benefits: the carbon costs associated with many thousands of manual claim submissions are far from insignificant.
Whilst HMRC’s payment period will remain at 21 days, removing the need physically to transport the forms from claimant to recipient will mean that online claimants should receive their money slightly quicker (with 1-2 days being shaved off the claims process).
In addition to processing the claims online, the option is also available to utilise specialist Gift Aid software to automate the process, sending all the relevant forms and information directly to HMRC, requiring a minimal amount of user intervention.
Merlin Software are a Yorkshire-based software supplier to charity and tourist attractions across the UK.