If your charity charges an admission fee to visit and view charity property the fee won't qualify for Gift Aid, as it is not a gift.
In some circumstances, however, by allowing visitors to view the property in return for a voluntary donation, the payment may qualify for Gift Aid.
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Payment of admission fees that are required in order to enter and view charity property are not voluntary gifts to your charity and so do not qualify for Gift Aid.
For example, if you charge a £50 admission fee to view a property, none of the money raised from the admission sales qualifies for Gift Aid. The money made counts towards your trading profit and is not a donation.
Only voluntary donations qualify for Gift Aid. If your charity allows a donor the right of admission to view charity property then, providing certain conditions are met, the benefit of the right of admission can be ignored and the donation may qualify for Gift Aid.
Your charity could ask visitors to make a voluntary donation that meets either of the following conditions:
Gift Aid can apply where a visitor has the option of paying the normal admission fee, but instead chooses to make a gift in the form of a donation that is at least 10 per cent more than the normal admission fee. In return for the donation your charity must allow them the same right of admission as a paying visitor would receive for paying the normal admission fee.
In this case the whole amount received from the visitor qualifies for Gift Aid, not just the additional 10 per cent. It is important that all visitors are clearly made aware that the option to make a donation that is 10 per cent more than the admission fee is entirely voluntary.
Your charity could use this option for daily admissions, but any period of admission of less than 12 months can be included - as long as members of the public could purchase the same right of admission for the basic admission charge.
A charity may sell a summer season ticket for a period of three months for a basic admission charge of £30, which cannot be Gift Aided. If the same right of admission for three months is given to a visitor making a donation that is 10 per cent more than the basic admission charge (so that they donate £33 in total), the whole £33 can qualify for Gift Aid, as long as the visitor knows they have a real choice between paying £30 or £33.
Gift Aid can apply where your charity accepts a donation and in return gives the donor the right of admission to view charity property for a period of at least one year, at all times that the property is open to members of the public. It includes annual membership subscriptions that meet the conditions to be regarded as donations. For more information see the link below 'Find out how membership subscriptions can be treated as donations'.
In return for a donation, your charity could choose to either:
Your charity is free to decide what minimum level of donation they will accept before granting a right of admission for a year or more.
In either case above, donations only qualify for Gift Aid when:
Rights of admission that are covered by the rules above include admissions to view charity property, including land and buildings, artefacts, works of art, plants, animals and scientific property.
Donations made for rights of admission to view performances - for example, theatre and film shows - are not covered by these rules, but Gift Aid may still be available on donations for admissions to view property where performances take place - for example, a tour of a theatre.
Your charity may make admission available at concessionary rates for different classes of visitor - for example, pensioners, students or disabled visitors.
When allowing admission in return for a donation of 10 per cent more than the admission charge, the 10 per cent extra is applied to the specific charge for each particular class of visitor.
Gift Aid can apply to a 'family ticket' donation providing you give a qualifying right of admission to the donor and their family. The right of admission does not have to be used by all of the family members at the same time.
If Mr Smith makes a donation in return for which a charity grants the right of annual admission to him, his wife and his two children. His donation will qualify for Gift Aid even if his wife and children visit the property without him, or if he visits the property alone.
A donor can't make a qualifying donation in return for admission for a group of people who are not members of their family, for example a group arriving as a coach party.
An individual can, however, collect donations from members of a group and pass them on to the charity. Each member of the group who makes a donation to the charity must complete a Gift Aid declaration.
Your charity can give donors modest (low value) tokens of appreciation - called 'benefits' - in order to acknowledge a gift but there are limits on their value.
The benefit of a right of admission to view charity property is a special case and does not count as a benefit under the Gift Aid rules. However, any other benefits provided in return for the donation, for example a free teddy bear or a voucher for money off in the café, could mean that, depending upon the value of these benefits, the donation would not qualify for Gift Aid.
A voluntary payment, with no benefit received in return, is a donation and outside the scope of VAT.
If you charge your visitors an admission fee to view the property, normal VAT rules apply. You must take your income from admission fees into account when considering whether you are required to be registered. If you are VAT-registered, VAT at the standard rate will be due on the admission fees, unless either of the following applies:
There is no equivalent relaxation of VAT rules for Gift Aid payments made to gain admission to view charity property. If you are VAT-registered, or required to be, and you ask your visitors to make a voluntary payment above the normal admission fee then:
There is no equivalent relaxation of VAT rules for Gift Aid payments made to gain admission to view charity property. If you are VAT-registered, or required to be, and you ask your visitors for a payment that allows them admission to the property for a specified period (for example, at least a 12 month period), you must account for VAT at the standard rate on the whole payment, unless your admission fees fall within the VAT cultural or fundraising event exemptions mentioned above.
For more help you can contact the Charities Helpline.