Charity tax minister Robert Jenrick has urged all charities to reveal how much Gift Aid they receive and called for “greater transparency” over fees charged by donation sites.
Speaking at the Charity Tax Group’s annual conference yesterday, Jenrick said greater transparency was “vital to maintaining public trust” in the tax reliefs provided to the sector.
Jenrick, who is exchequer secretary to the Treasury with responsibility for charity tax, said MPs were pressing him and chancellor Philip Hammond to “take action” and that he had asked the Charity Commission how to take the issue forward.
He said: “As a start I would like all charities, led by the largest ones, to publicly report the amount of Gift Aid they receive. A number are but many aren’t.
“I have asked the Charity Commission to consider how this could be done. There is significant parliamentary interest in this and those parliamentarians are pressing me and the chancellor to take action.
“That interest, like my own, is both to allow the public to understand and to appreciate the amount of support provided but also to spur charities to make better use of the reliefs provided.”
Speaking from the audience, Andrew Robinson, partner at audit firm RSM, questioned the need for charities to publish figures that HM Revenue & Customs already had.
He said: “If the government wants to shout about how valuable that relief is then surely the government has already got the tools to do so and why ask charities to do that on their behalf.”
However, Jenrick said in response that the Treasury was unable to access tax information provided to HMRC by individual charities.
He gave an example: “A number of MPs asked about specific charities and how much Gift Aid they were benefitting from and we are simply not able to provide that information because HMRC wouldn’t tell us if we asked.
“It is an important principle of our tax system that we would not want to compromise.”
Donation site fees
Jenrick said his other main area of focus over the next year would be on fees charged by donation sites.
He said there was similarly a “very clear parliamentary interest” in the fees, with concerns originally raised over fees charged on donations made following the terrorist attack in London Bridge and the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017.
Jenrick said he was pleased to read JustGiving’s announcement last month that it would drop its platform fees for UK charities but said he hoped to see “further progress”.
He said: “In particular, it should be a clear choice for charities using these sites whether they want to pay a fee for the site to administer Gift Aid and that fee should be a reasonable one so that taxpayers’ money doesn’t get diverted from the purpose to which it was intended – charitable activities – and you as charities don’t get ripped off.”