During the COVID-19 pandemic many offices have remained closed along with our high street shops. As a result, charities have not been able to sustain or complete a number of requirements within the HMRC guidance for the Retail Gift Aid scheme.
Keren Caird, Gift Aid Manager at Sue Ryder, and member of CTG’s Gift Aid and Giving Technical Group approached HMRC, on behalf of all charities running the scheme, to obtain concessions relating to the following:
End of Year letters for Method A & B
Guidance informs us that these letters should be sent out no later than the end of May, the following year. An extension has been given for 2020/21 only, to enable charities to send these letters at the earliest opportunity after this date.
For those charities operating Standard method, guidance requires that if a notification letter is returned, the donors Gift Aid registration must be suspended, and they are removed from the claim. A concession has been given on the understanding that, once offices are open, appropriate action is taken in a timely manner. Charities would not be expected to repay any Gift Aid which may have been claimed during office closures for which they subsequently find returned mail which has been received during this period.
Oral Gift Aid declarations
Guidance states that when an oral declaration is made, the donor is sent a written confirmation within 30 days of the telephone conversation, and Gift Aid cannot be claimed during this period. A concession has been given to allow claims to go ahead, before a written confirmation has been sent, provided that is sent in a timely manner once offices are open. If the donor has provided a valid email address, then confirmation can be sent via email.
Training for staff and volunteers
Gift Aid training should form part of any induction training for shop staff, but guidance also states that ongoing training is required. Charities should consider their training needs as business returns to normal, concentrating on Induction training, then catching up with refresher training.
Internal Gift Aid Audits
Guidance states that an internal audit is carried out annually on each shop. If a charity has robust systems and operating procedures in place, and there have been no major changes, they take a pragmatic approach to the requirement for an audit. Scheduled audits should be resumed as soon as possible.