Update on the Charity Tax Group’s work and impact in 2021

The Charity Tax Group’s (CTG) work has been needed more than ever before this year as the charity sector has had to face the consequences of COVID-19 and Brexit.

We would like to provide you with an update of the impact of our work has had on our members and the charity sector as a whole.

Scaling up services in response to COVID-19

The pandemic has provided CTG with opportunities to further extend its impact.  We have introduced:

  • An Expert Insight Session programme: CTG has delivered ten Expert Insight Sessions this year on practical tax topics. We have had almost 1,200 participants. Recordings of these sessions are available here.
  • A new monthly newsletter: CTG has published eight editions of a new “what you need to know about charity tax” monthly newsletter. Over 200 charities, large and small, are now receiving CTG bulletins for the first time.  This newsletter is aimed at the general charity finance professional, rather than tax specialists.  Please make sure that those who you work with who would benefit from it sign up to receive it.
  • A VAT practical issues working group: This new group now gives a vital opportunity for charity staff to share best practice and discuss key VAT issues with their peers. It already has over 30 members. Members who would be interested to join the group should contact [email protected].

Influencing Government to support charities survive the pandemic

CTG’s lobbying and influencing work has continued to produce positive results. We have submitted responses to eight consultations to HMRC and other organisations, including the Office for Tax Simplification and the Law Family Commission on Civil Society.

  • Maximising COVID grants for charities: After nine months of concerted lobbying, COVID-19 business grant allowances were increased by the Government. Charities with substantial property retail, hospitality and leisure property portfolios, have been able to access up to £1m of extra funding with an additional £9m available if a range of eligibility criteria are met. The UK Government previously applied EU state aid rules that denied access to potentially business saving lockdown grants. A CTG-led coalition successfully called on the Chancellor to increase the limits as EU restrictions no longer applied. CTG has also led on the interpretation of complex rules, enabling large charity retailers in particular, to recognise these grants as income to which they are entitled.
  • Future of Gift Aid project: The Future of Gift Aid project aims to harness the benefits of new technology and data sharing capabilities to maximise the value of Gift Aid claims made by charities. This CTG-led initiative involves charities, HMRC and intermediaries (such as JustGiving) working together.  It will help unlock £560m of Gift Aid that is unclaimed each year and reduce the £180m of Gift Aid claimed in error. Recently CTG has been involved with a presentation of the project’s work to HMRC’s head of charity policy. The progress of the project has been highlighted by the Office for Tax Simplification as a positive case study for sharing of third-party data. The project is reviewing all aspects of Gift Aid including an overdue overhaul of Gift Aid guidance to enable donors, for example, to have a better understanding of how Gift Aid works.
  • Making Tax Digital for Corporation Tax: Under new proposals a vast number of charities would be forced to report to HMRC each year for the first time. This would result in additional costs and administration, with little apparent benefit.  As a direct result of our consultation response, HMRC has engaged directly with CTG over the development of the new system.
  • Extension of Gift Aid to Waived Refunds and Loan Repayments: HMRC has now confirmed that  any waivers of refunds, including waivers of loans to charities, can count as a donations which are eligible for Gift Aid. This applies as long as the agreement to waive the loan/right to a refund is clear and irrevocable. CTG is working with HMRC to design a template agreement to enable charities to apply this in practice. This positive development provides a new fundraising opportunity for charities.
  • Business rates: The Government has published its response to the Fundamental Review of Business Rates in England. Importantly for charities the Government does not intend to remove any of the existing reliefs at this time. This is very welcome news as these reliefs are worth over £2bn a year to charities. This follows an active campaign by CTG and other sector bodies to demonstrate the value of the relief and was achieved in the face of criticism of the relief from other sectors. Read more here.

If you would like to get more involved with our work please let us know via e-mail ([email protected]).  We would be pleased to talk to you.

We also really appreciate the financial support charities have provided.  As we expand our work and our effectiveness that can only happen if we are resourced for that.  CTG works on the basis of a financial contribution set by our members themselves. That means that we have to trust our members to recognise what we achieve for them. It also means that we only ask that you contribute what you can afford. A contribution form is available here.