The finance and taxes manager at Cancer Research UK has warned that the inflexibility of HMRC’s Charities Online platform could see some charities actually lose money.
Richard Bray, who is also vice chair of the Charity Tax Group, said that while it is true that claims will be paid faster, more securely and with the chance of rejection reduced, he cautioned that a standardised system could also mean some organisations lose out.
“Where HMRC may have previously allowed pragmatic solutions in agreeing a way a charity can submit claims - as often has been the case - this may no longer be available,” he said. “If so, charities may face either an increased cost of preparing claims or giving up on some of their gift aid income.”
Bray expressed further cynicism about why the new method of submitting gift aid claims, which is due to go live on 22 April, will require more information, such as every donor's postcode, to be supplied.
"This information is being requested for a reason," he said. "It will enable HMRC to much more easily and effectively target those donors who have not paid tax. It may, for example, be used to highlight charities that for whatever reason have not made their supporters properly aware of this need to pay tax."
He urged charities to not passively accept Charities Online but to instead prepare for it now by ensuring their gift aid procedures are fit for purpose and that the rules of the new regime are fully understood.
"I can see many charities losing gift aid income for reasons both fair and foul," he added.
Bray also claimed that HMRC itself is set to benefit the most from the new system, as it will reduce the manpower needed to process gift aid claims and therefore save the organisation money.
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