Gift Aid and the naming of buildings

Following HMRC’s review of the donor benefit rules, new guidance was introduced in August 2019.  Unfortunately, the section of the guidance relating to the naming of buildings was ambiguous and some charity advisors had expressed concern that it could be interpreted as saying that the naming of a building after a donor who had given a substantial amount towards its construction would be treated as a donor benefit.

The Charity Tax Group (CTG) raised the matter with HMRC, explaining that the new guidance was ambiguous and appeared to be contrary to the long-standing arrangement whereby the naming of a building was not treated as a benefit.

Following these discussions, HMRC has confirmed that there had been no change in policy and has issued revised guidance.  CTG Chair, Richard Bray, commented: “CTG is very grateful that, once the matter had been drawn to its attention, HMRC acted quickly and positively to clarify the situation”.

The guidance (in HMRC’s Chapter 3) now states:


3.19.1 An acknowledgement of an individual donor’s generosity, for example in a printed brochure or on a plaque. This must be a simple acknowledgement and not an advertisement for a business or some form of business sponsorship. A commemorative type plaque recording the name of the individual donor and that they provided a donation, would not be considered a benefit. However, a sign which also promoted a business would be an advert and so would be considered a benefit.

Naming rights

3.19.8 Sometimes charities may want to name a building or part of a building after an individual donor who’s provided a substantial donation to the charity. The principles given in 3.19.1 apply here, and as long as the naming does not act as an advertisement or sponsorship for a business, then the naming of the building or part of the building after the individual donor would not be considered a benefit. If separate advertisement or sponsorship agreements are entered into, these transactions would be outside the scope of the Gift Aid scheme.

Notes to editors

The Charity Tax Group (CTG) has over 1000 members of all sizes representing all types of charitable activity, as well as over 50 “Observer Member” professional firms including lawyers and tax advisers. It was set up in 1982 to make representations to Government on charity taxation and it has since become the leading voice for the sector on this issue. CTG is an active participant in HMRC’s Charity Tax Forum and sits as the charity representative on HMRC’s Joint VAT Consultative Committee (JVCC).

For more information or additional press comment, please contact the CTG Secretariat at or 02072221265. You can also visit our website