HM Revenue & Customs has today announced that it is seeking evidence from charities in a bid to simplify gift aid donor benefit rules by the end of the year.
The government is planning to “publish a formal consultation document” on donor benefits at the end of the year, and HMRC has called upon charities to provide evidence on the scheme, so that it has the “best possible understanding of the impact of the current gift aid donor benefits rules on all interested parties”.
Respondents to the call for evidence can be businesses, charities, individuals or representative bodies who use gift aid. They will be asked to fill out as many as 25 questions which cover issues such as: general usage, membership benefits and factual understanding of the rules as they currently stand.
HMRC has made this call to evidence as it feels “many charities have difficulty understand the current donor benefit rules,” and as such, “decide to forego claiming gift aid on some donations rather than seek to understand, and ensure that they are compliant with, the existing rules”.
All respondents are to submit their evidence to HMRC by October 9 2015.
CFG: fix gift aid thresholds and value of benefits
Andrew O’Brien, head of policy and public affairs at the Charity Finance Group (pictured), welcomed the call for evidence and said he hopes that the value of donor benefits and gift aid donation thresholds are simplified.
“Our members have been reporting for some time that they find the current rules difficult to work within, particularly and the government is taking the right approach in gathering evidence before putting out firm proposals on future reform. Charities need to make the most of this opportunity to reform the rules and we’ll be urging all our members to send in responses to the call for evidence”.
“This is the first step in what will likely be a two step process,” he told Civil Society News. “I’m hoping to see the donation threshold simplified. At the moment there are three thresholds. At CFG we’ve had a number of our members saying that the current system is quite confusing to navigate.
“We’d also like to see more guidance on the value of benefits that charities can provide for donors. At the moment, donor benefits are valued from the donor’s perspective but what the donor might value something and what the charity does can often be two different things.”
In a blog he published today on the CFG, O’Brien expressed concern that still, 15 years after it was first introduced, “many participants” in HRMC research “were still confused about what gift aid was and how it operated”.