Practical relaxations to the operation of Retail Gift Aid while offices are closes during COVID-19

Many charities have now closed the offices in which Gift Aid claims are processed and are now working remotely. It is not always practical for mail to be redirected or collected.

With Gift Aid claims due to be processed in April 2020, this has presented charities operating Retail Gift Aid Standard Method with several problems relating to Returned Mail and Oral Declarations, as they are unable to process either at this time, but still want to be able to claim Gift Aid.

One of CTG’s charity members has been in conversation with HMRC’s Retail Gift Aid lead, Stephen Maudsley, and he has agreed concessions for both of these in the current climate and for this to be shared with the wider charity community. The advice has been provided in respect of Retail Gift Aid, but CTG will be asking officials whether the advice on oral declarations applies more broadly. CTG has also requested flexibility from HMRC on sending physical end-of-year letters in the light of the current lockdown.

Oral Declarations for Retail Gift Aid

I can confirm that you may continue to make the claims despite not having been able to issue the confirmation letters on the understanding that your operators will have provided a full explanation as to the Gift Aid process and the donors obligations regarding being a UK taxpayer.

 “As regards the potential for the donors to change their minds within the 30 day period and do so when you are able to issue the letters the question of making an adjustment to the claims can be considered then.”

Returned Mail

“In response to your question regarding action to be taken as a result of staff working at home and not being able to action any returned end of year statements I would initially refer you to our guidance at para 3.42.15 states that:-

“Any adjustments required as a result of the donor notifying the charity of a change in tax status or other details must be actioned by the charity within 2 months.

“HMRC recommend that all in-year and end-of-tax year Gift Aid letters are sent by post. Charities may use e-mail, but if a charity is alerted to an e-mail having been rejected by receiving an ‘undeliverable’ message, they must follow up and send the donor a letter by post too.

“However, in the scenario you describe due to the “unprecedented” situation,  if charities are not attending offices and have, therefore, no knowledge that they have received any returned notifications then they should continue in the usual way as regards their claiming process.

“Once they return to “normal” and start to open correspondence then they should ensure that going forward they take the appropriate action.”