Charity Tax Group tells government to be 'flexible' in its approach to sector

20 Mar 2020 News

The Charity Tax Group (CTG) has urged the government to allow charities to keep Gift Aid on donations originally made for cancelled events. 

It has written to the chancellor putting forward six proposals about using the tax system support charities during the current crisis.

This comes as people across the sector are calling for the government to do more to help charities that are facing unprecedented income and cash flow challenges.

The Association of Chairs and community organisations group Locality have also published advice on how to deal with coronavirus.

CTG’s proposals

CTG has asked the government to:

  • Allow charities to keep Gift Aid on donations originally made for cancelled events/loans.
  • Confirm that Gift Aid can be claimed on Facebook donations.
  • Confirm simplified audit processes for Gift Aid on text donations.
  • Confirm that no HMRC action will be taken to collect VAT on digital advertising by charities during the crisis.
  • Extend the Expanded Retail Discount to all charity properties. 
  • Confirm flexibility over tax deadlines and tax administration.

John Hemming, chairman of CTG, said: “Like all businesses, charities are facing major disruption due the Covid-19 pandemic. Charity offices are being closed, impacting on communication with staff and beneficiaries and the delivery of key charitable services and support functions. Charity income is also under severe pressure, particularly now that they have been advised to avoid public fundraising for the foreseeable future.

"Charities need government support to be able to continue their valuable contribution to society at the time when it is most needed.

“Charities are embracing technology and digital communication to ensure business continuity and it is vitally important that the tax system is flexible and does not prove an obstacle to maximising the effectiveness of charity fundraising and service delivery.”

The organisation has also launched an information hub for charity tax and finance professionals.

‘Try not to overload your staff’, chairs told

The Association of Chairs has published guidance on how chairs can support their charity during the crisis.

Key points of the guide include not shying away from decision making, supporting staff, making contingency plans in case members of staff get sick and working closely with the organisation’s chief executive.

The guide says: “Don’t avoid the tough decisions – one aspect of your role is to help the board face up to and make the decisions that need to be made. You’ll need enough information to make those decisions, especially financial information, but try not to overload your staff with unrealistic demands, which are likely to take them away from doing the work that needs to be done.”

Locality to host webinars to provide advice to its members

Community organisations group Locality also has a dedicated page on coronavirus on its website, and said it will be hosting regular webinars to provide advice and support to its members.

The organisation has an advice helpline and a Facebook group where communities can find information and advice. 

It said that communities will be “at the forefront” of the supporting action and that it is aware that many are worried about their ability to keep running their services and manage funding and staff issues.

It said: “We are working closely with sector partners to lobby for further support for civil society organisations, and we are in close contact with government on raising any particular issues which are being raised by members.”

For more news, interviews, opinion and analysis about charities and the voluntary sector, sign up to receive the Civil Society News daily bulletin here.

More on