Covid-19 means charities can ask for extensions on filing annual returns 

17 Mar 2020 News

Charities that need an extension to their annual return deadline due to the coronavirus pandemic should contact the Charity Commission, the regulator has said.

The Commission has said that during the Covid-19 pandemic, “the charity sector will face challenges of looking after its staff, volunteers and trustees who may fall ill, have to self-isolate, or have to look after loved ones”.

It added that the sector has a vital role to play in looking after its beneficiaries, many of whom will be amongst the most vulnerable during this public health emergency.

'Act in a pragmatic way' 

This means that the regulator will “act in a pragmatic way” where possible.

Its statement said “We want to assure charities that our approach to regulation during this period will be as flexible and supportive as possible. Charities’ primary interest, and ours, must be looking after the public and the communities that we serve.

“Charities can feel confident that we will, where possible, act in a pragmatic way by taking account of the wider public interest during this unprecedented period.”

This means that charities that are due to submit an annual return in the near future, but do not think they will be able to do so, can ask the regulator for a filing extension.

“We have been discussing the impact of the current situation with the government and the sector and will continue to do so over the coming days. Any further measures we can take to help will be communicated in due course,” the statement adds.

The Commission recently withdrew guidance telling charities that they may need to report a serious incident if they are seriously impacted by Covid-19. 

The tone of the initial guidance was criticised on social media, and the regulator has now changed it. 

It also deleted a tweet telling charities that “the virus may result in your charity needing to report a serious incident” and linking to the guidance. 


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