Particular situations

3.42. Introduction

The purpose of this section is to explain how the Gift Aid scheme works in particular situations.

In all cases it is important to remember that Gift Aid applies to free will gifts of money made by an individual who has paid tax to cover the donation to the charity.

The tax reclaimed by the charity under Gift Aid must be traceable to the individual donor and to their tax record. The donor must always know how much money they have donated to the charity in order to confirm that Gift Aid is eligible on the donation and they have paid enough tax to cover the donation. Higher rate taxpayers need to know the exact amount of the donation if they wish to reclaim tax on the difference between their marginal rate of tax and the basic rate of tax.

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3.43 Educational trusts

3.43.1

This section explains when educational trusts ('Trusts') can claim Gift Aid in respect of payments made to such trusts by parents and persons connected to a pupil.

3.43.2

A Trust is established to provide education for children as an alternative to State education. Parents may pay for textbooks, exercise books, exam fees and consumable materials. However, they are often not required to pay any set fees to cover the costs of tuition and other overheads, but instead may make payments described as donations.

3.43.3

The payment of fees to a charity is not a gift to charity and so fees paid to a Trust are not eligible for the Gift Aid scheme. Whether non-fee payments ('donations') made by parents (and persons connected to them) to a Trust qualify as Gift Aid payments depends upon the surrounding circumstances and the situation for each Trust is judged on its own merits.

3.43.4

There is a cost in providing education for a child and if that cost is met in consequence of the Gift Aid payments being made to the Trust then that cost is a benefit for the purposes of the Gift Aid scheme. This includes the cost of tuition, heating and lighting of premises and other administrative costs, which would be taken into account by a private school in setting fees.

Whether or not a benefit is received 'in consequence of' the Gift Aid payments is a question of fact to be determined in the light of the surrounding circumstances. In particular, it is important to consider whether the Trust would be able to meet the costs of providing the education in the absence of the donations.

In considering whether the level of fees is sufficient to cover operating costs trusts can take account of reliable, ongoing income sources such as endowments, but not one-off or periodic donations or grants where no binding commitment exists.

3.43.5

As far as alternative sources of funding are concerned, these are relevant only in as much as they form part of all the circumstances a court might look at in deciding whether the overall funding structure was genuinely able to maintain the activities of the charitable trust to the extent that additional contributions from individuals receiving a benefit were unnecessary.

3.43.6

Where the trust has a genuine fee structure in place HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will accept that the benefit of receiving education arises from payment of the fees. Consequently, the receipt of education would not be received as a consequence of making donations over and above the fees and so those donations could qualify for Gift Aid. A genuine fee structure is one where fees are charged in respect of all students and the fees are set at such a level that enables the Trust to operate without needing additional support.

3.43.7

Where there is no fee structure or only nominal fees are charged, insufficient to enable the trust to operate without additional donations the additional donations give rise to a benefit. Such consequential benefits will generally be in excess of the benefit limits for donations made by parents and persons connected to them and so the donations will usually fail as Gift Aid payments.

3.43.8

Where there is no fee structure or only nominal fees are charged, but sufficient alternative, unconnected, funding sources can be clearly identified, there will be no benefit arising as a consequence of donations from persons connected with the children receiving education. In situations where this is clearly the case, providing the other Gift Aid criteria are met, Gift Aid relief might be available on those donations.

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3.44 Educational school trips

3.44.1

This section is intended for charitable schools and Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) who want to know if Gift Aid can be used in respect of voluntary contributions toward educational school trips.

3.44.2

In schools, other than independent fee paying schools, the education provided wholly or mainly during school hours is free. This means that head teachers may not impose a charge on parents for any visit that is undertaken as part of the National Curriculum and occurs during school hours. The head teacher may, however, ask for a voluntary contribution.

Parents must be made aware that the contribution is not compulsory, and the children of parents who do not contribute must not be discriminated against. It is permissible for the school to ask parents to contribute more than the minimum amount in order to subsidise those pupils whose parents have not contributed. However, if there are not enough voluntary contributions and the shortfall cannot be made up, the visit may have to be cancelled. Such voluntary contributions to charitable schools or PTAs may be eligible for tax relief under the Gift Aid scheme, provided the usual requirements of the scheme are satisfied and in particular:

  • parental contributions are made on the basis that they are not refundable (and are not in any event refunded) if the trip does not go ahead or if their child does not go on the trip
  • any benefit arising from the school trip does not exceed the maximum level of permissible benefit for the donation as explained below

For a donation of £0 - £100 the value of the benefits must not exceed 25 per cent of the donation. For a donation of £101 - £1,000 the value of the benefits must not exceed £25.

Benefits include travel costs, trip insurance, cost of entry and associated educational material, cost of food and drink supplied and any other costs associated with the trip (costs averaged per pupil if appropriate).

In general, however, it is likely that the benefits associated with a school trip contribution will exceed the maximum level of permissible benefits and so the donation will not come within the Gift Aid scheme.

Example one

The cost of an educational trip to a local museum amounts to £8 (transport £5 entry £2 and brochure £1). The school asks for a voluntary contribution of £10. The payment of £10 cannot be made under the Gift Aid scheme as the benefit of £8 exceeds the 25 per cent limit (80 per cent).

However, where a payment is made in excess of the requested contribution the excess can be Gift Aided provided the requested contribution meets the cost of the trip (the benefit).

Example two

The position is the same as in example 1 but a parent makes a voluntary contribution of £15 instead of the requested £10. The additional £5 can be made as a Gift Aid payment.

HMRC web site

General information about the tax reliefs and exemptions available to charities is available by visiting Detailed Guidance notes for Charities

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3.45 Church collections

3.45.1

Whether or not collections made for a particular charity by churches (which are themselves charities) can fall within the churches' Gift Aid scheme will depend on the particular circumstances.

3.45.2

If the church has not exercised any discretion in collecting the donations and the donations are merely given to the church to simply pass on to a particular charity then:

  • the church has no entitlement to the donations (and they do not form part of the church's income)
  • the church is merely acting as a conduit and it is the charity that is the donee
  • the charity must claim any Gift Aid tax relief (subject to the normal requirements, Gift Aid declaration and audit trail)

3.45.3

However, if the church exercises its discretion and decides to open a fund for donations to a particular charity, then:

  • the fund is a restricted fund of the church
  • the church is the donee and the donations form part of the church's income
  • the church is able to claim any Gift Aid tax relief (subject to the normal requirements)

3.45.4

The church is legally obliged to pass the tax associated with a Gift Aid payment to the charity. The donor would have made their donation in expectation that both the Gift Aid donation and the associated Gift Aid tax would go to the charity for which the collection was made.

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3.46 Membership subscriptions

3.46.1

There is a statutory requirement, under Gift Aid, for payments to be gifts. This means that payments that are made to acquire goods or services are not eligible for Gift Aid. However, there are rules within the Gift Aid legislation that allow charities to provide donors with token benefits, within specified limits, in recognition of their gifts.

3.46.2

Most membership subscriptions are not gifts, they are made to gain access to the facilities and services provided by the charity. However, membership subscriptions paid to charities that secure voting rights and the right to attend a charity's AGM are gifts provided they meet the conditions at paragraph 3.46.3. These payments will, of course, still have to satisfy the benefit rules referred to above.

3.46.3

The conditions referred to are:

  • that the payments do no more than secure membership of the charity
  • that the payments do not secure a right to personal use of any facilities or services provided by the charity

3.46.4

The provision to members of, for example, periodic newsletters explaining the work of the charity, or opportunities to visit and view the work of the charity would not breach these conditions. So, a wildlife conservation charity that allowed members admission to its sites to view its conservation work would not be regarded as providing services or facilities for personal use.

The payment of a subscription to a charity to simply receive a copy of its magazine is not a payment to become a member of the charity. Such a payment is the purchase of a magazine subscription and cannot be Gift Aided.

3.46.5

Similarly, the opportunity to take part in activities by which the charity carried out its charitable objectives are acceptable as long as the activities do not amount to making personal use of its facilities. So, a youth organisation that provided various activities in furtherance of its broader educational objectives would not be regarded as providing services or facilities for personal use.

3.46.6

Membership subscriptions that secure the right to personal use of facilities or services are not gifts. So, for example, subscriptions that are made in order to obtain for an individual or individuals' tuition, coaching or other educational instruction are not gifts. Similarly, subscriptions to a sports charity or a charitable film society are not acceptable if they secured for members the free or discounted use of, say, a golf course or a swimming pool or the viewing of films that are not available on similar terms to non-members.

3.46.7

Where a charity separates that part of the membership subscription that simply gives the basic rights of membership and does no more than cover the basic administration costs of the charity from any part that relates to the provision of services or facilities the membership element can be a gift. So, for example, a sports charity that charges a basic membership subscription, with additional, variable, training or playing charges depending on the member's standard, could regard the basic membership as a gift. The additional training or playing charges could not be treated as gifts. A charity that charges a standard membership fee that covers membership and participation could not treat any part of the subscription as a gift if participation in the activities involved personal use of services or facilities.

Family membership

3.46.8

Many organisations offer family membership arrangements that give all the rights of individual membership, but at a reduced cost. Where a charity offers family membership the subscription is a gift to the charity provided the subscription:

  • secures membership for the donor; and
  • satisfies the conditions at paragraph 3.46.3 above

3.46.9

The fact that the subscription gives members of the donor's family rights of membership too does not change this as the payment is, primarily, a gift from the donor to the charity. The donor must, however, be the person who has given a Gift Aid declaration to the charity.

Paying other people's subscriptions

3.46.10

The payment to a charity to secure individual membership rights for a person other than the donor are not gifts to the charity. This includes an individual membership purchased for a family member (spouse, parent etc) that is not secured as part of a family membership scheme. This is because although the payment is made to the charity the gift is to the person whose membership subscription is being paid.

However, this does not extend to payments made in respect of a donor's minor children (children under 18 years of age). So, a payment that satisfies the conditions to be treated as a gift if made in respect of the donor personally will be accepted as a gift if it is made for their minor child.

Professional subscriptions paid to charities

3.46.11

Certain organisation have applied for and been entered on HMRC's' list of professional qualifying bodies (List 3) and, as such, its members can claim tax relief on their subscriptions as an expenses deduction from their employment earnings under Sections 344 Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 (previously Section 201 Income and Corporation taxes Act 1988).

Period prior to 6 April 2007

The payment of a professional membership subscription to a charitable organisation shown on the list can be Gift Aided provided:

  • The charity receives the member's confirmation that they have not claimed (and would not claim) the subscription as an expense deduction for tax purposes – that is, the choice to claim the subscription as an expense deduction or a 'donation' to charity is a matter for the member to decide;
  • The conditions at paragraph 3.46.3 are satisfied so that the subscription can be regarded as a gift; and
  • The conditions of the Gift Aid scheme are otherwise met.

Period from 6 April 2007

In order to be a qualifying donation for the purposes of Gift Aid, a gift to a charity must satisfy the conditions set out in section 416 Income Tax Act 2007. Section 416(5) ITA 2007 provides that the payment in question must not be deductible in calculating an individual's income from any source. This condition was a change to the Gift Aid legislation and it was detailed in the Change Notes to ITA 2007 (no. 76).

The general rule for the deduction of employees' expenses is at section 336 Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003. This states that a deduction from earnings 'is allowed' for expenses incurred wholly exclusively and necessarily in the performance of the duties of the employment. An expense that 'is allowed' is 'deductible'.

For members employed in their relating profession, their professional subscriptions are 'deductible' from their income and whether or not they choose to claim the deduction is immaterial. Employed members (including those self employed) no longer have the choice to regard their membership subscriptions as donations and cannot, therefore, Gift Aid their subscriptions.

However, retired or student members with no relevant income from which to make a deduction can make use of the Gift Aid provisions provided:

  • The charity receives the member's confirmation that they have no relevant earnings against which the subscription is deductible as an expense deduction for tax purposes;
  • The conditions at paragraph 3.46.3 are satisfied so that the subscription could be regarded as a gift; and
  • The conditions of the Gift Aid scheme are otherwise met.

Charity voucher or cheque accounts used to pay membership subscriptions

3.46.12

Some charities offer voucher or cheque 'accounts' to which are credited Gift Aid donations, Payroll Giving donations or the value of other tax relieved gifts (such as the proceeds from gift of shares etc). The charity (voucher charity) will claim any Gift Aid repayment from HMRC and credit that to the 'account'. The voucher charity then allows the donor to direct the amount and value of those donations to other charities.

Once a donor has given a Gift Aid (or other tax relieved) donation to the voucher charity, the whole of the gross donation belongs to the voucher charity (including any Gift Aid tax repayment). All charities must apply their income for charitable purposes only and this includes amounts credited to donors' 'accounts' by voucher charities. The payment of a membership subscription by a voucher charity on behalf of a donor is not an application of income for charitable purposes by the charity, even if it is membership of another charity. This is because the payment secures membership rights for the donor rather than delivering the voucher charity's charitable objects. Consequently charity cheques or vouchers cannot be used to pay for membership subscriptions on behalf of the donor.

An additional issue arises where the payment of a donation using charity cheques or vouchers provides the donor with a right of admission to view the recipient charity's property. The right of admission to view a charity's property may be disregarded for Gift Aid purposes if, among other conditions, it is the charity receiving the Gift Aid donation that grants the right of admission to its property. However this disregard does not apply where the right is granted by a charity receiving payment by a voucher or cheque from another charity: that is because the charity granting the right of admission has not received a Gift Aid donation. Consequently in such circumstances the benefit cannot be ignored. If the value of that right exceeds the Gift Aid benefit limits Gift Aid cannot apply. Therefore it is not appropriate to make such donations out of Gift Aided funds from a voucher charity account.

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3.47 Adventure fundraising events: sponsorship payments and Gift Aid

3.47.1

Some charities organise adventure challenge events, frequently overseas treks and bike rides, ('events') to raise funds. For example, cycling in Cuba, rafting the Grand Canyon or trekking in China. The same principles apply to similar events in the UK (for example, parachute jumps, helicopter flights).

3.47.2

Participants are asked to pay a non-refundable deposit/registration fee (say, £200) and to raise sponsorship of a minimum set amount (say, £2,500) in return for going on the event.

3.47.3

The charity pays a third party to arrange the event (say, £1,200). The payment covers all a participant's costs, (travel, insurance, provision of specialist equipment (bike, raft etc), food, accommodation etc).

Gift Aid

3.47.4

Sponsorship payments are eligible for the Gift Aid scheme provided all the normal requirements of the scheme are satisfied, including the benefit rules. The relationship of the sponsor to the participant – whether they are 'connected' persons – generally decides whether sponsorship may be Gift Aided. A 'connected person' is a person that is connected with a donor if that person is:

  • the wife, husband or civil partner
  • a relative (brother, sister, ancestor (for example, mother) or lineal descendant (for example, grandson)
  • the wife, husband or civil partner of a relative
  • a company under the control of the donor, or under control of connected persons

3.47.5

In most instances a participant will receives a benefit equal to the cost of the event, less any payment they personally make towards the cost of the event (including any deposit/registration fee payable). Where the value of the benefit exceeds the permitted levels Gift Aid will not be available.

Sponsors who are connected persons

3.47.6

Sponsorship payments made by persons connected to the participant also, usually, fail the donor benefit rules (where the participant receives a benefit) and so will not qualify for Gift Aid but see para 3.47.9.

Sponsors who are not connected persons

3.47.7

Sponsorship payments made by persons not connected to the participant can be made under Gift Aid. So, if all the sponsorship raised by a participant is donated by persons not connected to the participant then all of those individual payments can be Gift Aided.

Participant

3.47.8

Any deposit/registration fee paid by a participant will not be a donation to the charity and so cannot be a Gift Aid payment. Any donation made by the participant may also fail the benefit rules and cannot be Gift Aided (See 3.47.9 below).

The participant pays the full cost of the event.

3.47.9

If a participant personally pays the charity the full advertised cost of the event from his own resources, the value of the benefit of participating is reduced to nil. The benefit rules still apply but in this instance the value of the benefit will be nil. So, while the sum paid by the participant to meet the full cost of taking part in the event cannot be Gift Aided, the donations made by others (both connected and not connected persons) can be Gift Aided.

3.47.10

In the example above the benefit, which would arise is the full cost of the trip as advertised by the charity - £1,200 (that is, £200 deposit/registration fee plus £1,000 for the balance of the trip). If the participant pays the charity £1,200 they will reduce that benefit to nil. None of this payment will be a gift to the charity so none of the £1,200 can be a Gift Aid payment.

3.47.11

If the participant reduces the benefit to nil by paying the full cost of the trip then all sponsorship paid, whether by connected persons or otherwise, can be Gift Aided.
Charity requirements

3.47.12

Charities should take all reasonable steps to ensure that Gift Aid payments are not received from persons connected to a participant. HMRC recognises that, in practice, a charity cannot be expected to check whether a participant and their sponsors are connected persons. However, a participating charity must include in the event literature and on the sponsorship form:

  • an explanation that sponsors connected to a participant cannot make their donations by Gift Aid unless exceptionally the participant pays the full advertised cost of the event; and
  • the definition of a 'connected person' (see paragraph 3.47.4).

3.48 Gift Aid on donations that attract a right of free admission to charity property

3.48

Introduction to 'Gift Aid Admissions' rules

3.48.1

The following guidance is intended to cover the most common situations encountered by charities offering donors the right of admission to view charity property. Charities are advised to contact HMRC Charities for advice before implementing any arrangements which are not covered by this guidance.

3.48.2

Donations to charity may qualify for Gift Aid, providing the donor receives no more than minimal benefits in consequence of a donation. However, from 6 April 2006 a relaxation to the benefit rules applies for charities which allow visitors access to view charity property.

3.48.3

If, in consequence of a donation, a charity allows a donor the benefit of a right of admission to view charity property then, providing certain conditions are met, the value of that benefit may be disregarded and the donation may qualify for Gift Aid.

3.48.4

For the benefit of any right of admission received in consequence of a donation to be disregarded (so that the donation can be considered for Gift Aid), the following conditions must be satisfied:

Either

  • a donation is made and in return the charity grants a right of admission to the donor, or the donor and his family, for a period of at least a year, at the same times at which the general public can obtain admission; or;
  • a donation is made of at least 10 per cent more than the cost of admission to the general public and in return the charity grants an equivalent right of admission to the donor, or the donor and his family.

3.48.5

The opportunity to make a gift and to receive a right of admission in consequence must always be available to the public. This means that the right of admission to view charity property must not be made conditional upon the donor making a Gift Aid declaration.

The annual right of admission option

3.48.6

This option applies where, in return for a donation, a charity grants a right of admission to view charity property for a period of at least one year, at all times that members of the public can gain admission. Charities can opt to:

(a) accept a donation and allow free admission for all visits during the period covered (but the charity can specify up to five days when the right of free admission does not apply). However a visitor who chooses to make a donation but does not complete a Gift Aid declaration must also be able to gain free admission on the same terms. So in practice the '12 months entry' price must be available to all whether they chose to make a Gift Aid declaration or not; or;

(b) accept a donation and grant a right of admission on payment of a reduced fee, which must apply for the first and all subsequent visits during the period covered. In this scenario only the initial donation will qualify for Gift Aid. The first and subsequent admission fees are not donations but are payments of a charge for admission to view the property. A visitor who chooses to make a donation but does not complete a Gift Aid declaration must also be able to gain the same reduced rate admission on the same terms for their first and all subsequent visits.

3.48.7

A charity granting annual admission in return for a donation must apply one or the other of these scenarios rather than a mixture of the two, that is, the same free or reduced rate admission must be applied for the first and all subsequent visits.

A twelve month admission scheme where a donation, equal to the cost of a day admission, secures one free visit and repeat visits at reduced rates does not succeed because it mixes free and reduced price admission.

Example 1

A charity charges £30 to become a member which entitles the member to gain access to view the charity's house and grounds for a year on the basis that they only pay 25 per cent of the entrance fee which is currently £12 (there are no other benefits). The member pays £30 (which is treated as a donation because the conditions in (b) of paragraph 3.48.6 have been met) and £3 to enter and he makes 5 more visits paying a further £15. He can Gift Aid the £30 membership subscription but the further £18 cannot be Gift Aided as they are not a donation but payments to enter the charity's property.

Example 2

A charity charges £30 to become a member which entitles the member to free access for the first visit to view the charity's house and grounds and entry thereafter for a year on the basis that they only pay 25 per cent of the entrance fee which is currently £12 (there are no other benefits). He makes 5 more visits during the year, paying a further £15. The relaxation of the benefit rule does not apply and, while the membership subscription is regarded as a donation (see paragraph 3.46), the benefits as a consequence of the donation amounts to £57 (£12 plus five discounted entries saving £9 each time) and so the donations fails the Gift Aid benefit limit of £7.50 (£30 @ 25 per cent). None of the £45 paid (£30 + £15) can be Gift Aided because the charity has given free admission on the first visit and charged reduced rate for admission on subsequent visits.

3.48.8

Charities are free to decide what minimum level of donation they will accept before granting a right of admission for a year or more (so for example can choose to allow annual admission for a donation equal to the daily admission charge), but must always give an equivalent right of admission to all donors including those who do not make a Gift Aid declaration that is, the right of admission must not be made conditional upon the donor making a Gift Aid declaration. It must also be made clear to the donor before they are asked to complete a Gift Aid declaration that they can purchase the yearly right of admission without making the Gift Aid declaration for the same price as if they do make the declaration. For further guidance see paragraph 3.48.5

3.48.9

Charities do not have to be open all year or every day to grant a right of admission for a period of a year or more. Gift Aid can apply as long as the right of admission is available to donors at all times when the property is open for viewing by members of the public. Charities may, however, specify up to five days per year when the donors' free or reduced rate right of admission will not apply. For further guidance see paragraph 3.48.25

The 'admission charge plus 10 per cent' option

3.48.10

This option applies where a member of the public could purchase a right of admission, but instead chooses to make a gift that is at least 10 per cent more than the admission charge, and in return for that donation the charity grants the equivalent admission to view charity property. The whole amount received from a donor is treated as a donation for Gift Aid purposes, not just the additional 10 per cent.

3.48.11

Any period of admission from one day to less than 12 months can be included within this option as long as members of the public could purchase an equivalent right of admission.

Example:

A charity may sell a summer season ticket for a period of three months for £30; if the same right of admission is granted to an individual donating an additional 10 per cent (that is, paying £33 in total), the whole £33 can qualify for Gift Aid.

3.48.12

For payments to qualify for Gift Aid, each visitor must be made aware at the time they are asked for payment that they can choose to pay the admission charge or make a voluntary donation of 10 per cent more than the admission charge and receive the same right of admission. If the visitor is denied the right to choose to pay the standard admission charge, then payment of the extra 10 per cent is not a freely given gift and cannot be a qualifying donation. Charities must clearly advertise their normal admission charges and make it absolutely clear to all visitors that they will be admitted upon payment of the lower admission charge if they choose not to make an additional 10 per cent voluntary donation.

Qualifying charities and rights of admission

3.48.13

The right of admission must be granted by the charity for the purpose of viewing property preserved, maintained, kept or created by a charity in pursuit of its charitable purposes.

Property is not restricted to land and/or buildings. It also includes:

  • artefacts
  • works of art (but not performances)
  • plants
  • animals
  • scientific property.

This list is not exhaustive.

Property preserved, maintained, kept or created

3.48.14

The property being viewed does not necessarily have to be preserved, maintained etc. by the particular charity granting a right of admission but must be preserved, kept etc. by a charity, with similar objects to the charity making the admission charge.
Example:

  • A national child welfare charity - CWC - has a permanent exhibition at its headquarters, illustrating the value of toys and games as elements of a healthy childhood.
  • The toys on display belong to a Museum of childhood (MOC), which is a charity with similar objects to CWC.
  • The charity (CWC) is therefore admitting visitors to view property kept, maintained etc by a charity -MOC.

Joint admission arrangements

3.48.15

Gift Aid can apply to donations which give the donor a right of admission to the property of more than one charity. The visitor who chooses to make a donation must, however, know which charity or charities are sharing his donation, and in what proportions. There are two general scenarios possible:

(a) Where one charity manages the whole venue, and has a separate contractual arrangement with the other charities for providing that management service, any visitor choosing to make a donation will make it to the managing charity and the Gift Aid declaration need only specify that charity.

(b) Where each charity administers its own site but there are joint admission arrangements allowing for a split of the admission charge or donation between the charities then the visitor must be made aware, if he chooses to make a donation, of the amount of the donation 'per charity'. This must be clearly specified at the time of the donation. The Gift Aid declaration must also reflect this correctly.

Example 1:

A joint admission ticket allows access to three different charity properties, specifying that the admission charge of £15.00 is allocated in equal proportions that is, £5.00 to each of the three charities offering admission to their property.

If a donor makes an additional voluntary contribution of £1.50 (10 per cent of £15.00) each charity could claim Gift Aid on £5.50; HMRC will accept a joint declaration which specifies the names of each charity and shows that the donor is aware of the allocation when he makes his donation.

Example 2:

Two charities together offer a qualifying right of annual admission to their properties in return for a donation of £100 to be allocated between them in the proportion 70:30.

The charities could claim Gift Aid on £70 and £30 respectively; The charities can use a joint declaration which specifies the names of each charity and shows that the donor is aware of the allocation when he makes his donation.

3.48.16

In these circumstances care must be taken regarding the format of the Gift Aid declaration, and charities considering this type of joint admission arrangement can contact HMRC Charities for assistance.

Mixed sites

3.48.17

Charities must also be very careful when they consider offering multiple admissions to a mixture of charity and non-charity properties. The right of entry to a non-charity property may have to be considered as a benefit received in consequence of the donation (unless it is clearly priced and paid for separately).

Charities in this position should contact HMRC Charities for guidance about specific scenarios or proposals.

Reciprocal arrangements with other charities

3.48.18

Gift Aid can apply to qualifying donations which grant a right of admission to the property of more than one charity as long as there is an equivalent right of admission granted to donors who opt not to make a Gift Aid declaration.

Example

  • Two zoos in different parts of the country may have a reciprocal arrangement to allow donors annual admission to the other's property.
  • As long as each is a charity the benefit of admission to each site can be disregarded under this arrangement.
  • There is no additional benefit as donors receive a disregarded right of admission to each zoo.

Charities displaying loaned items or non-charity property

3.48.19

Charities may also display property that does not belong to them, borrowing it from other charities or from private owners, public bodies etc.

3.48.20

A distinction has to be drawn between admission to view a charity's property, which may have been merely supplemented by items borrowed from others, including non-charities, and the display of other property - simply being displayed on a charity's premises.

  • If the borrowed property and/or its preservation etc. is within the defined objects of the charity it is being 'kept' by the charity and Gift Aid can apply, subject to all other conditions being met.
  • If the borrowed property and its preservation would be outside the charity's objects and it is displayed by its owners rather than by the charity that is, the charity does not borrow the property for incorporation into its own displays, that property is not 'kept' by a charity.
  • If the property - not regarded as 'kept' by the charity - constitutes a significant part of the attraction at a particular property, Gift Aid would probably not apply to the payment for admission as the value of viewing non-charity property would have to be accounted for as a non-charitable Gift Aid benefit.

Performances

3.48.21

Performances are specifically excluded from the category of 'works of art' but Gift Aid may still be available on donations made for admission to view property where performances also take place.

For example:

  • donations to admit visitors to a performance of a play at an historic theatre will not qualify; but
  • the same theatre may be open at times when performances are not taking place, to allow visitors to view its architectural features.

3.48.22

If a performance is merely incidental to the viewing of a charity's property or it can be regarded as integral to the viewing of that property it is not disqualified as a 'performance'.

For example:

  • historic re-enactments illustrative of the property's former use;
  • demonstrations of technical processes or crafts associated with the property;.
  • interactive experiments in a science museum.

3.48.23

Rights of admission that include interactive experiments with an educational purpose and displays of military memorabilia will also qualify as being integral to the viewing of charity property.

Restricting rights of admission for special events at charity properties

3.48.24

A charity that grants donors an annual right of free or reduced rate admission in return for qualifying donations may restrict the right of free or reduced rate admission to donors for a maximum of five days in any 12 month period when the property is otherwise open to the public. If the right of admission is restricted for more than 5 days the donation will not qualify for Gift Aid.

3.48.25

This allows charities to hold events for which the usual public admission arrangements do not apply; generally this will be events for which there is a special public admission charge such as concerts, performances of plays, firework displays, etc.

3.48.26

If a charity excludes donors from free or reduced rate admission to view the charity property when a special event is taking place, it may nonetheless admit donors for that day only, on payment of the public admission charge. The payment of the admission charge will not qualify for Gift Aid as it will be a payment to attend the event rather than to view the charity property.

Example one

A charity allows donors the right of free annual admission to view its property but donors are excluded from free entry on five days per year because events with a separate admission charge are taking place, such as a Christmas Fayre, Easter egg hunt, Fashion Show, etc. On those days the charity charges donors the full public admission price, which does not qualify for Gift Aid. If there were six or more such events in the year none of the donations would qualify for Gift Aid.

Example two

If donors with the annual right of free admission were charged a reduced price for admission to a special event, the value of the discount would be taken into account as an additional benefit received in consequence of their donation; the payment of the reduced admission fee would not qualify for Gift Aid (see paragraph 3.48.30 'Particular benefits – admission to special events')

3.48.27

Special events that are held outside the times when the charity property is normally open to members of the public need not be taken into account when applying this restriction.

Example:

A charity allows donors the right of free annual admission to view its property on weekdays only. It can exclude donors from free admission to special events, such as concerts, held on any Saturday or Sunday, but exclusion of donors from free admission on a weekday because a special event is taking place must be restricted to a maximum of five days in any 12 month period.
Provision of other benefits

3.48.28

Some charities give donors other benefits apart from the right of admission. Only the right of admission to view a charity property can be disregarded and any other benefits provided to a donor as a consequence of a donation must be valued separately and taken into account when considering whether the donation qualifies for Gift Aid. The value to be taken into account is the value to the donor not the cost to the charity. A charity may decide to provide visitors with benefits as a thank you for making an optional 10 per cent donation; this is acceptable providing the benefits do not exceed the normal benefit rules.

Example:

  • the admission charge to view a charity's property is £20.00
  • visitors making a donation (£22) of an extra 10 per cent are granted free admission
  • the full amount donated, £22.00 qualifies for Gift Aid and the charity can therefore give other benefits with a value of
  • to £5.50 (being 25 per cent of £22.00)
  • if the charity gives a soft toy worth £6 (the benefit to the donor is the retail value not the cost of the item to the (charity) no Gift Aid can be claimed on the donation as the benefit limit is exceeded
  • if the charity offers a voucher for £5.00 to spend in the restaurant, the donation will qualify for Gift Aid.

Particular benefits - admission to special events

3.48.29

If admission to a property also includes free or reduced rate entry into events that are held on the charity's premises, and for which a separate admission charge applies, then the value of free or reduced price entry into those special events must be taken into account as an additional benefit in consequence of a donation for Gift Aid purposes. Depending on the value of the event it may mean that the donation does not qualify for Gift Aid.

Example

A charity allows free annual admission to its estate in return for a donation. The charity holds an annual Easter egg hunt on the estate, for which there is a special public admission charge of £10. The charity allows free entry to the Easter egg hunt to donors. The additional benefit of £10 is not automatically disregarded for Gift Aid purposes but must be taken into account as an additional benefit in consequence of the donation.

Particular benefits - use of charity facilities

3.48.30

If the right of admission includes the use of charity facilities then the value of the use of those facilities must be taken into account as an additional benefit in consequence of a donation for Gift Aid purposes. Depending on the value of the use of those facilities it may mean that the donation does not qualify for Gift Aid.

Example

A charity charges visitors to view a historic building; visitors can pay an optional additional fee to use a swimming pool housed in the building. The charity allows free annual admission to the building and swimming pool in return for a donation. The right of admission to the building is disregarded for Gift Aid purposes, but the value of the right to use the swimming pool facilities must be taken into account as an additional benefit in consequence of the donation.

If you are in doubt about how to treat a particular item, site or event at a property covered by this legislation please contact HMRC Charities with full details.

Gift Aid declarations

3.48.31

If a visitor chooses to make a donation to a charity he or she can also choose to make a Gift Aid declaration. The donation will not qualify for Gift Aid treatment in the charity's hands unless an appropriate declaration is given.

3.48.32

An appropriate declaration may be made in writing or orally. It must contain the donor's initial and surname and his home postal address (house number and postcode as a minimum). The donor must also confirm that he or she has paid sufficient tax to cover the amount reclaimable by the charity.

3.48.33

Where a donor makes an oral declaration, the charity must keep a record of the declaration and give the donor written confirmation of the declaration, for example on the till receipt. Further guidance on the requirements for Gift Aid and appropriate declarations is available at paragraph 3.10 Gift Aid Declarations

Donors who do not make a Gift Aid declaration

3.48.34

Some visitors will choose to make a donation to the charity but will be unable to make a Gift Aid declaration as they will not be UK taxpayers; others may want to make a donation but prefer not to claim Gift Aid on their donation. These donors must receive exactly the same right of admission as donors who do make a Gift Aid declaration. This rule applies whether the charity operates the 'annual right of admission' option or the 'admission charge plus 10 per cent' option.

3.48.35

Charities may decide to give annual right of admission to visitors who make a donation equal to, or less than, the standard daily admission charge. This is acceptable, but charities must be prepared to accept a donation and give the annual right of admission to any donor who chooses this option, whether or not he or she makes a Gift Aid declaration.

Example

A charity owns three properties and charges £10 for daily admission to any single property. The charity chooses to offer donors the annual right of free admission to all three properties in return for a minimum donation of just £25. The benefit of admission to all three qualifying properties in return for a donation can be disregarded for the purposes of Gift Aid, providing the 'discount' is offered to all donors, and not only to those making a Gift Aid declaration.

Classes of admission

3.48.36

A charity may make admission available at concessionary rates for different classes of visitor for example, pensioners, students, disabled visitors, the unwaged etc. When granting the right of entry 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.

Example:

The standard adult admission charge to a charity property is £15, with a reduced admission charge of £10 available to pensioners.

Mr Green is a pensioner and makes an additional voluntary donation of £1.00 (10 per cent of £10.00) - he can Gift Aid his whole donation of £11.00.

His daughter Miss Green is not entitled to any concessions, so must make a voluntary donation of £1.50 (10 per cent of £15.00) in order to Gift Aid her total donation of £16.50.

If Miss Green makes a donation to secure admission for both herself and her father, the total amount she must pay to qualify for Gift Aid is £27.50

Family admission

3.48.37

The right of admission of the donor and one or more members of his/her family can be disregarded for Gift Aid purposes, whether or not that right of admission is exercised by all of the family members at the same time.

Example:

Mr Smith makes a donation in return for which a charity grants the right of annual admission to Mr Smith, 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.

3.48.38

What constitutes a 'family' for the purposes of a 'family ticket' depends on the circumstances. Typically a family ticket will be available to a couple and their minor children or to everyone living in the same home – which might include adult children and grandparents. Either is acceptable for Gift Aid purposes. It is each charity's responsibility to explain to visitors that in order for donations to qualify for Gift Aid, the right of admission must apply to family members only. HMRC recommends that charities draw attention to this requirement in literature and signage. There is no expectation that the charity will make detailed identity or relationship checks on individuals. However, it is in the charity's interests to monitor donations for 'family admissions', as HMRC may query claims for Gift Aid on unusual groups may be queried if audited. If a charity wanted to introduce a different definition of 'family' to either of the two above and seek to claim Gift Aid on that ticket they should contact HMRC Charities explaining the definition of 'a family' they intend to use before submitting any Gift Aid claims for that ticket.

Example

if a visitor wishes to make a Gift Aid donation to admit a group of eight adults (paying eight times the single admission + 10 per cent donation), he or she should be told that only donations giving the right of admission to the donor's own family members will qualify for Gift Aid. The visitor should be asked to confirm that seven guests are indeed members of their own family. If audited, the charity is likely to be asked to demonstrate that its procedures included this confirmation. Whilst it is not a statutory obligation, charities might decide to include this confirmation on Gift Aid declarations/till receipts.

3.48.39

Many charities offer 'family tickets' at special prices. Each charity can decide its own policy for what they are prepared to accept in terms of family size and familial relationships when granting such a right of admission, but this is not directly relevant to the Gift Aid provisions.

Example:

  • A charity may offer a 'family ticket' allowing annual admission for two adults and up to three children at a reduced rate.
  • If Mr and Mrs Brown have four children, Mrs Brown may claim Gift Aid on her donation for a 'family ticket' obtaining a right of annual admission in accordance with the charity's rules for a family reduction.
  • She can also make a Gift Aid donation for the additional child admission she obtains to take the whole family to view the property as she is merely making a second donation for one or more members of her family.

Group admissions

3.48.40

A donor cannot make a qualifying donation in respect of payment for a group of people who are not members of his/her family, for example a group arriving as a coach party.

3.48.41

An individual can, however, collect donations from members of a group and pass them on to the charity for administrative convenience. Each member of the group who makes a donation must individually fulfil the Gift Aid conditions (so the donation could be for his personal admission, or for himself and members of his family), and each donor must complete a personal Gift Aid declaration. Any cheques must be made payable to the charity rather than the group organiser.

3.48.42

The charity must take care only to claim Gift Aid in respect of those members of the group who make qualifying Gift Aid donations.

VAT

3.48.43

There is no equivalent relaxation of VAT rules for payments to gain admission to view charity property.

3.48.44

The addition of an amount over and above the standard admission charge, including the voluntary 10 per cent donation on top of an admission charge does not therefore make the entire payment a donation for VAT purposes.

3.48.45

For VAT a donation must be freely given with the donor receiving nothing in return for the donation (except a token item, which has no intrinsic value, such as a lapel sticker or poppy)

3.48.46

If a charity is VAT registered VAT at the standard rate will still have to be accounted for on the admission charge - unless the cultural exemption applies, in which case the admission charge will be exempt from VAT.

More information about the Cultural Exemption can be found in VAT notice 701/47 Culture.

3.48.47

Where a charity provides benefits as an incentive, to encourage donations in addition to the admission charge, the VAT position changes, whether or not such donations exceed 10 per cent of the admission charge.

3.48.48

VAT becomes due on the amount paid in addition to the admission charge at the rate appropriate to the benefit provided i.e. at the zero, standard or reduced rate.

VAT - Admission charge standard-rated

3.48.49

Where a charity receives a gift aid donation which is in part subject to VAT at the standard rate, the VAT position is as follows:

  • that part of the payment representing the normal admission charge is standard rated
  • the additional amount is a donation and outside the scope of VAT, provided that it is truly voluntary and gives no additional benefits.

3.48.50

In these circumstances the receipt of such donations does not require a business/non-business apportionment.

VAT and vouchers

3.48.51

A charity may decide to offer vouchers as an incentive to customers who make a donation in addition to an admission charge; the vouchers are often redeemable at an outlet within the charity property. There are a number of different ways in which voucher schemes work and special VAT rules apply. One of the more common types of voucher is a 'face value' voucher.

3.48.52

Face value vouchers display a monetary value and are usually sold at or below that monetary value and can be used to obtain goods and services. The provision of a voucher in return for a donation is regarded as supply in return for payment. There is no VAT on a face value voucher when they are sold (unless they are sold for an amount greater than the face value in which case VAT is due on the difference).

3.48.53

However, when redeemed for goods or services these vouchers are treated as consideration (payment) for those goods or services at their full face value.

Further information can be found in VAT notice 700/7 Business promotion schemes.

VAT effect on partial exemption calculations

3.48.54

Where a charity is partially exempt, only the normal admission charge should be included in the partial exemption calculation. Any additional donation should only be included if the charity provides a gift or benefit in return for the extra amount.

3.48.55

Freely given donations, where the donor receives nothing in return (other than a token item such as a lapel badge), are excluded from the partial exemption calculation.

VAT business/non-business calculation

3.48.56

The receipt of donations does not in itself create a requirement to carry out a business/non-business calculation. Where a business/non-business calculation is required, dependent on the apportionment method used, the donative elements may have to be included in the calculation. Non-business activity is generally the supply of goods and services for no charge.

For basic information on how VAT affects charities click the following link to VAT Notice 701/1 Charities.

VAT examples

3.48.57

  • A VAT registered charity makes an admission charge of £10 to view charity property.
  • They seek a donation of more than the £10 admission charge to help them pursue their charitable objectives.

1. The charity provides no goods or benefits in return for the additional donation:

VAT is due at 20 per cent on the £10 admission charge unless the VAT Cultural Exemption applies (supply is exempt)

As no goods or benefits are given any amounts received in excess of the £10 can be treated as donations - outside the scope of VAT.

2. The charity gives a lapel sticker to visitors who make a donation:

VAT is due at 20 per cent on the £10 admission charge.

Because a lapel badge is merely a token, any additional amounts can be regarded as a donation and therefore outside the scope of VAT.

3. The charity gives a book about the history of the charity property to visitors who make a donation:

VAT is due at 20 per cent on the £10 admission charge unless the VAT Cultural Exemption applies (supply is exempt).

As books are zero rated any amounts paid in addition to the admission charge, represent a zero-rated consideration for the book.

If the customer does not receive the book, either because they have paid an additional amount less than 10 per cent of the admission charge or they choose not to take the book, the additional amount is a donation outside the scope of VAT.

4. The charity gives the customer a set of coasters picturing the charity property:

VAT is due at 20 per cent on the £10 admission charge, unless the VAT Cultural Exemption applies (supply is exempt).

As the coasters are a standard rated supply any amount paid in addition to the admission charge is a standard rated consideration for the coasters and VAT will be due at 20 per cent on the additional amount paid.

If the customer does not receive or accept the coasters the additional amount can be considered a donation outside the scope of VAT.

5. The charity gives the customer a token with a face value of £1 to be redeemed at one of the charity's outlets:

VAT is due at 20 per cent on the £10 admission charge, unless the VAT Cultural Exemption applies (supply is exempt).

If the customer pays an additional £1 no VAT is due on the face value of the token at this point.

VAT is accounted for when the voucher is redeemed, at the rate appropriate to the goods or services purchased. for example, if it is used to buy a book the zero rate will apply, to buy a snack at a café the standard rate of 20 per cent will apply.

If the extra amount paid by the customer is greater than the face value of the voucher (say £1.50) VAT would be due at the standard rate on £0.50 on admission and VAT on the remaining £1 is accounted for when the voucher is redeemed.

If the customer does not receive a voucher, either because they have paid an additional amount less than 10 per cent of the admission charge or they choose not to take the voucher, the additional amount is a donation outside the scope of VAT.

3.49 Charity auctions

Donation

3.49.1

A payment for an item at a charity auction is not a gift to charity, it is a purchase.

3.49.2

However, when a person purchases a lot at a charity auction they may intentionally pay more than it is worth in order to support the charity. So, on that basis and depending upon the circumstances, part or all of a successful auction bid may qualify as a Gift Aid donation to the charity.

3.49.3

The payment will only qualify as a Gift Aid payment if the normal requirements of the Gift Aid scheme are met, and that includes satisfying the Gift Aid benefit rules.

Gift Aid benefit (valuation of an auction item)

3.49.4

For an item that is commercially available, the benefit for Gift Aid purposes is the 'shop sale' price of the item. An item must have a clear and recognisable value (market value) and be available commercially for purchase separately by an individual otherwise than at the auction.

3.49.5

For a commercially available item that has had its value enhanced, for example because it has been owned by a celebrity, the market value (and hence the benefit for Gift Aid purposes) will not be the original price of the item but the amount it fetches in the auction.

3.49.7

For an item not commercially available, its value is the auction price paid by the purchaser. So the benefit for Gift Aid purposes is the 'auction' price paid (effectively a benefit of 100 per cent of the successful auction bid).
Buying the Gift Aid benefit (split payment)

3.49.8

Where the value of the benefits exceeds the limits in the donor benefit rules (so that the whole of the donation fails as a Gift Aid donation) the donor may, as a concession, be able to treat part of his/her payment as buying the benefits (the value in monetary terms of the benefits) and Gift Aid the excess donation.

The Gift Aid benefits can only be purchased if:

  • the benefits can be purchased separately; and
  • the donor is aware of the monetary value of the benefit at the time they make their donation.

3.49.9

For auction items, this treatment only applies where:

  • The auction item can be purchased separately elsewhere; and
  • The donor is aware of the value of the benefit (the retail cost of the item) at the time they make their successful auction bid (donation). .

That is, the donor must know the monetary value of the item at the time they make their bid in order to 'buy the benefit' and so know that the excess is a donation.

Example one

A charity auctions a football that is on sale in a well known store for £10.

The football is commercially available for £10, so the Gift Aid benefit is £10. The benefit is £10 whether:

  • the charity buys the ball from the store;
  • the store donates the ball to the charity; or
  • An individual purchases the ball from the store and donates it to the charity.

(a). An individual successfully bids £40 for the ball

The benefit is £10 and, as the benefit is 25 per cent of the price paid of £40, the whole of the £40 is eligible as a Gift Aid payment.

(b). An individual successfully bids £30 for the ball but the charity did not tell bidders at the start of the auction that it could be bought locally for £10

The benefit is £10 and, as the benefit is 33 per cent of the price paid of £30, the Gift Aid benefit limit is exceeded. So none of the £30 paid is eligible as a Gift Aid payment (the donor cannot buy the benefit).

(c). An individual successfully bids £30 for the ball and the charity told bidders at the start of the auction that it could be bought locally for £10

The benefit is £10 and, as the benefit is 33 per cent of the price paid of £30, the Gift Aid benefit limit is exceeded. However, the donor can buy the benefit and so £20 is eligible as a Gift Aid payment (£30 paid less the bought benefit of £10).

(d). The ball is signed by the local football team and sold for £100 (although the price paid is not relevant to the treatment described below)

The nature of the ball has changed by its being signed by the local football team. The signed ball is not the item on sale in the store and its value for Gift Aid benefit purposes is the auction price paid of £100. The benefit is 100 per cent (£100 donation, £100 benefit) and so none of the £100 paid is eligible for the Gift Aid scheme.

Example two

2. An individual makes a wooden train that is similar to one on sale at a local store and it is bought at auction for £50

The train auctioned is not on sale in the store (and is not commercially available) and so its value for Gift Aid benefit purposes is the auction price paid of £50. The benefit is 100 per cent (£50 donation, £50 benefit) and so none of the £50 paid is eligible for the Gift Aid scheme.

Example three

Often a charity (mainly churches) will hold an auction of 'promises'. These are tasks that individuals have promised to carry out for successful bidders. For example:

  • Wash and polish a car
  • Cut the grass
  • Prepare and serve a meal
  • Make available a holiday cottage for the weekend
  • Baby sit for an evening

These are all items offered by the general public and are not usually (see exception below) on general sale. Similar items/services may be available commercially but not those offered as promises.

The value of a promise for Gift Aid benefit purposes is the auction price paid. The benefit will always be 100 per cent of the donation and so none of the auction price paid to purchase a promise is eligible for the Gift Aid scheme.

Exception

Occasionally a promise offered is commercially available. For example:

  • a cottage may be generally available for letting even though owned by a member of the public. If the promise is to make available the cottage for a weekend and the rent charged is usually £100 (and there is evidence available in support) then the Gift Aid benefit is £100 and the rules apply as in example one.
  • a local garage may agree to supply a free 'wash and polish' for which they charge £10. The Gift Aid benefit is £10 and the rules apply as in example one.

Example four

Charities sometimes receive items owned or used by celebrities for auction. Such items have an enhanced value over and above their purchase price and bids to secure such items cannot be Gift Aided. For example:

A famous pop music star gives a pair of her shoes for a charity auction. These shoes normally retail for £150. Mr Webster purchases the shoes with a bid of £10,000. Although the shoes retail for £150, because a celebrity has owned them, their value has been considerably enhanced and the £10,000 paid represents their market value. The benefit received is £10,000, 100 per cent of the payment. Consequently the £10,000 cannot be paid under Gift Aid.

3.50 Voluntary workers' expenses

3.50.1

Voluntary workers sometimes incur expenditure when assisting charities to carry out their work (for example, travel costs, postal or photocopying charges, etc.). Provided the expenses are reasonable and proper, a charity can reimburse a volunteer for the expenses incurred. Often a volunteer will forgo the expenses to which he/she is entitled.

This section explians how the Gift Aid rules apply when volunteers agree to forgo their expenses.

3.50.2

One of the requirements of the Gift Aid scheme is that the gift by a donor to a charity 'takes the form of a payment of a sum of money'. So a Gift Aid payment to a charity cannot be made by book entries following a waiver of expenses.

3.50.3

The charity must physically pay the expenses to the volunteer. The volunteer is then free to keep the money or pay part or all of it back to the charity as a Gift Aid payment. If they give all of the expenses paid back to the charity, they are not returning the expenses but making a payment of an equivalent amount.

3.50.4

The charity will need, as normal, a Gift Aid declaration and an audit trail to bring the payment into the Gift Aid scheme. The payment will also need to meet the usual requirements of the Gift Aid scheme (benefit rules etc.).

3.50.5

For audit purposes, it is preferable that at least one of the payments by the charity or the volunteer is made by cheque.

Taxation implications for the volunteer

3.50.6

Before a payment made to volunteer worker can be charged to tax as Employment Income there must be:

  • either an office or an employment; and
  • earnings from that office or employment.

3.50.7

A person who does voluntary unpaid work for a charity will not normally be engaged under a contract of employment and will not, normally, be the holder of an office. If there is no office or employment, it follows that the reimbursement of any expenses incurred by voluntary workers in doing the work of the charity will not give rise to liability to tax. Similarly, voluntary workers who are otherwise unpaid are not liable to tax on the reimbursement of the extra cost they might incur because they undertake such work, for example, the expenses of travel between home and the place where the work is done.

3.50.8

If expenses are paid which do more than reimburse the costs incurred, or are at scale rates which cannot reasonably be regarded as merely a reimbursement of what they spend, the voluntary workers may be receiving remuneration for their services. In that case, the payments will be taxable as employment income if it can be shown that they hold an office or employment. If they do not hold an office or employment, the payments may be chargeable as a miscellaneous receipt.

3.50.9

If there is doubt about the tax treatment of expenses payments to volunteers, the HMRC office responsible for considering the matter is:

  • For payments made to volunteers who have a contract of employment or are holders of an office, the HMRC office that is responsible for operating the PAYE scheme for the charity.
  • Otherwise, the HMRC office responsible for the volunteer's own tax affairs.

Approved mileage allowances

3.50.10

Expenses payments to volunteers within the rates of the approved mileage allowance payments scheme as published by HMRC will not be taxable. The rates are available by visiting the Approved mileage rates page.

3.51 Claiming Gift Aid when goods are sold by, and the proceeds gifted to, charities

Selling donated goods

3.51.1

Gift Aid applies only to gifts of money by an individual. So if a person simply donates goods to a charity Gift Aid does not apply. Charities cannot claim Gift Aid on donations of any physical items, such as clothes or books, only on donations of money. However, in certain situations Gift Aid can be claimed by charities or Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) on the income from the sale of supporters' goods.

3.51.2

References to charity or charities throughout should be taken to include CASCs unless otherwise stated.

Carrying out the sale of goods on behalf of the owner

3.51.3

Charity shops can be run directly by the charity or by a trading company. A charity or its trading company can offer to act as an agent for private individuals and sell goods on their behalf, so that at the point of sale the funds actually belong to the individual. The charity or its trading company can ask the owner of the goods to donate the sale proceeds to the charity.  If the owner agrees to donate the sales proceeds to the charity, Gift Aid can be claimed by the charity on the net sales proceeds subject to all other Gift Aid conditions being satisfied.

The term 'net sales proceeds' is explained in section 3.51.18.

Tax implications for donors

3.51.4

In order for the owner's donation of the proceeds of the sale of goods to qualify for Gift Aid, the following conditions must apply.

  • The private individual retains legal and beneficial ownership of the goods until they are sold. It must be clear to potential customers that the shop is selling the goods on behalf of the owner and not the charity. The owner of the goods and the charity both understand that the charity (or its trading company) is acting as the individual's agent.
  • The owner of the goods has the right to keep all of the net proceeds of the sale but can choose to donate all or part of the proceeds if they wish.

Before the net proceeds of sale are donated to the charity, the owner of the goods must make a valid Gift Aid declaration to cover the proceeds they choose to donate to the charity. The declaration will normally be made before the goods are sold, when they are taken into the shop The donor must make a declaration confirming that in the tax year in which the donation is made they will have paid tax at least equal to the amount of Gift Aid tax relief that the charity and any other charities they donate to can claim on their donations.

Use the Gift Aid declaration form for a single donation

The income generated from the sale of goods by your charity or CASC may have tax implications for the owner. It is therefore important that the shop staff makes sure the owner of the goods understands the following:

  • The amount which qualifies for Gift Aid is the net proceeds - the amount after any sales commission and VAT is taken off - which they agree the charity may keep.
  • If they sell significant quantities of goods in this way or are trading separately (as a sole trader) in those or similar goods they must consider their own position in terms of income tax and VAT on the proceeds even though they may donate them to the charity.
  • A Gift Aid declaration must be made by the owner of the goods.
  • In making the Gift Aid Declaration the owner is confirming they are a UK taxpayer and pay an annual amount of income or capital gains tax at least equal to the amount of tax being reclaimed by the charity on the sale proceeds of the goods.
  • It is emphasised to the owner that the tax they pay must be income tax or capital gains tax only and no other taxes, like VAT and Council Tax, qualify.
  • That the scheme is not suitable for non-taxpayers and so they should not be encouraged to use the scheme.  As such the shop staff need to be sure the individual is a tax payer and watch out for the fact most elderly people, children and the unemployed are not taxpayers.
  • The goods must belong to the individual personally.

If appropriate, the charity must also make them aware of the potential Capital Gains Tax implications as if they sell assets in this way, a charge to Capital Gains Tax can arise, depending on the nature of the asset and how much it is sold for. Any liability to Capital Gains Tax is still their responsibility. As a result the owner may want to consider whether it is more beneficial for them to give a valuable asset directly to the charity instead - as they will not be charged Capital Gains Tax on any chargeable gains on gifts of assets to charities. In this case the charity will not be able to claim Gift Aid on their donation - as Gift Aid only applies to gifts of money and not assets, but any gain on the sale of this asset by the charity will be exempt from Capital Gains Tax as long as the gain is applied for charitable purposes.

The methods of operating Gift Aid are explained in 3.51.6

3.51.5

Charities, or their trading companies, selling goods on behalf of an individual must explain all of the arrangements to the individual. There needs to be a written agreement, but this can be in the form of a leaflet or information sheet given to the owner of the goods to take away. However, all staff and volunteers must understand and be able to correctly explain the nature of the arrangements, how Gift Aid applies, and the consequences for the owner of the goods.

Operating the Gift Aid process

3.51.6

There are three ways charity shops can operate the Gift Aid process - the Standard Method, Method A and Method B.
The first is the method that charities have been using up to 5 April 2013 and is called the 'Standard Method'. This is explained in paragraph 3.51.7 below. Please note the guidance on the standard method has changed and charities that continue to use this method should check that their process matches the changed guidance below. In particular they should check that the letters they issue to donors follow the wording of the model letters. 

The other two methods, 'Method A' and 'Method B', can be used from 6 April 2013. The methods a charity can use will depend on how it operates its shops.

If shops are operated by the charity directly, then the charity can use the Standard Method or Method A. 
If the shops are operated by a separate entity such as a company then the Standard Method, Method A or Method B can be used.

Method B is not suitable for CASCs because subsidiary companies of a CASC cannot donate profits to the CASC under corporate Gift Aid.

Standard Method of operating the Retail Gift Aid process

3.51.7

This is the method that has been available since 2006. This guidance has been updated and charities that choose to use this method should ensure their process matches this guidance and in particular that the letters the charity issues to donors follow the wording of the model letters. See paragraph 3.51.9 onwards. Failure to follow this guidance could result in the subsequent Gift Aid claims being invalid.

3.51.8

The way this method works is that an individual takes goods to a charity shop and agrees that the shop will act as their agent in selling the goods (for which a commission will be deducted from the proceeds). A Gift Aid declaration is completed by the individual at this stage, if the charity does not already hold one. The charity marks the goods in some way so that the sales proceeds can be linked back to the donor.

3.51.9

After the goods are sold (but before the charity makes a gift aid claim) the charity shop writes to the owner of the goods to advise them of the net sale proceeds. It explains that it intends to treat this amount as a gift to the charity unless the owner contacts the charity within 21 days (of the letter) to say they want to keep the proceeds. The charity shop must then give the individual at least 21 days to respond to this letter before it treats the net sale proceeds as a donation to the charity. The charity must use the standard method template letter below when writing to the individual.  Charities are free to add additional information to the letter or alter the opening and closing sections but the words in italics must be used.

Template Letter for Gift Aid Claim - Standard Method (PDF 13K)

The term 'net sale proceeds' means the sales proceeds after commission and any VAT charged on the commission have been deducted. There is more information about this at section 3.51.18.

Example one

  • Emma brings a bag of clothes to a shop run by a charity, and agrees that they can sell all the goods on her behalf.
  • She completes a Gift Aid declaration naming the charity represented by the shop.
  • The shop assistant explains the process and tells Emma that she is under no obligation to donate the sale proceeds.
  • When they sort and price the goods, the shop links Emma's goods to her record via a unique donor number on the price tag or on a separate bar coded label.
  • Every time the shop sells any of these goods it records the amount received against her unique donor number.
  • When the charity wishes to make a Gift Aid claim that includes money allocated to her unique donor number, it writes to Emma (using the template letter) to tell her the net value of the sales to date and asks her to contact the charity within 21 days if she wants to keep any of the sale proceeds. The charity offers her the 'net sales proceeds'.
  • Emma is happy to donate all the net proceeds to date to the charity, so she does not reply.
  • There is no need for her to write back because at the end of the 21 day period the shop can assume that she is donating the proceeds.
  • After the 21 day default period, the shop passes the sale proceeds, less a commission charge and any VAT due on the commission charge, to the charity.

Operating the Retail Gift Aid process: 'Method A' and 'Method B'

3.51.10

If goods are given to a charity shop and the charity itself sells those goods on behalf of the individual, then the charity can only use 'Method A' to operate the Retail Gift Aid process. This is because the charity is both agent and recipient of the donation.
However, if the charity uses an intermediate trading company that receives and sells the goods on behalf of an individual then it can use either 'Method A' or 'Method B' to operate the Retail Gift Aid process. The details of each method are set out below
Both methods allow the individual to specify at the start of the process that they don't need the shop to ask them to donate net sales proceeds up to a certain amount in the tax year.

3.51.11

Both types of shop will have to track the goods sold on behalf of each owner because the shop needs to keep a running total of the amounts received from the sale of goods by each individual in each tax year. This is because the shop needs to be able to identify whether the total raised during a year from all goods donated by one individual has exceeded the agreed limit, and where applicable, notify the donor of the amount raised.

Most shops allocate an identity code or number to each supporter and use this on the labels attached to their goods so that the sales proceeds from each item can be attributed to the correct supporter.

Goods sold on an agency basis have to be identifiable in some way that distinguishes them from goods donated for sale or stock that has been bought in by the shop. This is usually done using different labels on the goods and signage in the shop.

Method A

3.51.12

Method A is for charities that operate shops themselves and don't use a trading company to run the shop for them. This method of operating the Retail Gift Aid process removes the need for a charity to send letters to the individual when the net sales proceeds from their goods are no more than £100 in a tax year. To use this method, the charity shop must obtain the agreement of the individual when they bring the goods to the shop to sell. The charity must make it clear to the individual that, if the total net sale proceeds in a year are below the agreed amount, the individual will not be offered their money back before the charity claims Gift Aid because the individual has already agreed to donate the money to the charity.

When the individual brings the goods into the shop and the process is explained to them, the staff in the shop can ask them if they would be happy to donate the proceeds without receiving a letter if the net sales proceeds from the goods are no more than £100 in the tax year. If the individual agrees to this, the member of staff needs to explain to them that the charity shop will contact them if the net sales proceeds from the goods are more than £100, so the individual can then confirm that they also want to donate the proceeds in excess of £100. The individual should also be asked if they would like to receive a letter at the end of the year informing them of the total amount raised from the sale of their goods. Individuals who claim higher rate relief would need such a letter to enable them to claim the right amount of relief. The charity must use the following template letters when writing to the individual. Charities are free to add additional information to the letters or alter the opening and closing sections but the words in italics must be used.

Template Letter for Gift Aid where £100 limit exceeded - Method A (PDF 13K)

Template Letter for Gift Aid where subsequent sales are made after the £100 limit has been exceeded - Method A (PDF 13K)

Template Letter for Gift Aid at the end of year - Method A (PDF 13K)

In order to agree to this arrangement, the individual needs to understand the implications of what they are agreeing to. They need to be confident they will pay enough tax to cover the tax the charity will reclaim through Gift Aid on the donation, which will be up to £25 per year. That tax has to be income tax or capital gains tax. Other taxes like VAT and Council tax do not qualify. The individual must pay enough tax to cover all their donations made under Gift Aid in the tax year. So if the individual has entered into agreements with four different charity shops to donate up to £100 to each charity and then makes a Gift aid donation of £100 to another charity, the individual must pay at least £125 Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax in the year.
There needs to be a written agreement between the individual and the charity, and the charity needs to record the fact that the individual has made the agreement.  The agreement can therefore be something the individual signs or consents to orally, if they are given a leaflet or information sheet to take away. The form of the agreement is covered in 3.51.19. The donor will also need to make a Gift Aid declaration in favour of the charity.

Example two

  • Sam brings a bag of shoes to a shop run by a charity, and agrees that they can sell all the shoes on her behalf.
  • The shop assistant explains the process and tells Sam that she is under no obligation to donate the sale proceeds.
  • Sam agrees to donate the net proceeds if they total no more than £100 and she does not want the shop to contact her.
  • She completes a Gift Aid declaration naming the charity represented by the shop and signs an agreement with the charity.
  • When they sort and price the goods, the shop links Sam's goods to her via a unique donor number or bar coded label on the price tag.
  • Every time the shop sells any of these goods it records the amount received against her unique donor number.
  • At the end of the year the shop adds up the sale proceeds from the sale of Sam's shoes and finds that they raised a net income of £83.
  • As this is below £100 the shop does not need to write to Sam and the charity can claim Gift Aid on the donation of £83.

If instead the shop had raised a net income of £120 from selling the shoes, it would have to write a letter to Sam to tell her the amount of the net sales proceeds and ask her to contact the shop within 21 days if she wanted to keep any of it.

3.51.13

The individual must always be given the choice of receiving a notification of the sale proceeds from their goods at the end of the tax year. Notifying the individual of the sales proceeds provides assurance for them that they have paid sufficient tax to cover the Gift Aid claims and means that higher rate tax payers know how much to claim in higher rate relief on their donation.
In the above example, if Sam asked for a letter at the end of the year informing her of the total amounts raised from her donations then the charity would send a letter after 5 April informing her of the total net sales proceeds raised of £83.

Method B - only for charity shops run by a separate entity such as a subsidiary company

3.51.14

Method B is for charities that use a separate entity, such as a subsidiary company, to run the shop for them.  This method of operating the Retail Gift Aid process is similar to Method A but it can only be used where a trading company receives the goods, sells them on behalf of the donor, and then donates the profits to the charity. The company can either:

  • be the operator of all the retail selling for the charity
  • just sell goods within Method B and operate that process for the charity
  • sell new goods, the goods within Method B and operate that process for the charity

The company is required to track how much has been raised from all of the goods sold on behalf of each individual over the course of the tax year.

For the purposes of this process, it does not matter whether or not the company owns the lease to the shop.

Method B is not suitable for CASCs as subsidiary companies of a CASC cannot donate profits to the CASC under corporate Gift Aid.

3.51.15

An individual takes goods to a charity shop and agrees to sign an agency agreement with the company selling goods within Method B. The individual also makes a Gift Aid declaration for the charity. The agency agreement confirms that the company will act as the person's agent in selling the goods and that the net sale proceeds will be gifted to the charity as long as they do not exceed £1,000 in any tax year. The agreement must state that the individual and the company are entering into an agency arrangement and that the company will sell goods on behalf of the individual in return for a commission (or dispose of them if unsold). The company must make it clear to the individual that, if the total net sale proceeds in a year are below the agreed amount, the individual will not be offered their money back before the charity claims Gift Aid because the individual has already agreed to donate the money to the charity.

In order to agree to this, the individual needs to understand the implications of what they are agreeing to. They need to be confident that they will pay enough tax to cover the tax the charity will reclaim through Gift Aid on the donation, which will be up to £250 per year. That tax has to be Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax. Other taxes like VAT and Council tax do not qualify. The individual must pay enough tax to cover all their donations made under Gift Aid in the tax year. So if the individual has entered into agreements with four different charity shops to donate up to £1,000 to each charity and then makes a Gift Aid donation of £1,000 to another charity, the individual must pay at least £1,250 Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax in the year.
There needs to be a written agreement between the individual and the charity and the charity needs to record the fact the individual has made the agreement.  The agreement can therefore be something the individual signs or consents to orally, if they are given a leaflet or information sheet to take away. The form of the agreement is covered in 31.51.19.

£1,000 is the maximum net sales proceeds to which this method applies. Charities may choose to use a lower figure for all agreements or may offer a lower figure as an alternative if individuals consider £1,000 to be too high.

3.51.16

For both methods A and B the individual must always be given the choice of receiving a notification of the sale proceeds from their goods at the end of the tax year. Notifying the individual of the sales proceeds provides assurance to them that they have paid sufficient tax to cover the Gift Aid claims and means that higher and additional rate tax payers know the amount of donations on which they can claim tax relief.

If the net sales proceeds from the goods are over £1,000 in a tax year (from 6 April one year until 5 April the following year), the Gift Aid declaration remains valid but the charity must write to the individual to tell them how much the goods were sold for and the individual must be given the opportunity to choose to keep all or part of the proceeds. The letter should give the individual 21 days to let the company know if they do not want to donate the additional amount to the charity.

Once the limit of £1,000 has been exceeded in any given tax year the company can either:

  • send a letter to the individual and then write again each time further goods are sold
  • wait until the end of the year and send one letter detailing the total amount raised in the year and giving the individual at least 21 days to let the company know if they do not want to donate the amount raised to the charity

Any in-year or end of year letters should remind the individual that if they have not paid sufficient tax then they need to pay the shortfall to HMRC or tell the charity not to claim Gift Aid on the donations.  The charity must use these template letters when writing to the individual. Charities are free to add additional information to the letters or alter the opening and closing sections but the words in italics must be used.

Template Letter for Gift Aid where £1,000 limit exceeded - Method B (PDF 13K)

Template Letter for Gift Aid where subsequent sales are made after the £1,000 limit has been exceeded - Method B (PDF 13K)

Template letter for Gift Aid at the end of year - Method B (PDF 13K)

Example three

  • Sam brings some paintings to a charity shop run by a trading company, and agrees that they can sell them all on her behalf.
  • The shop assistant explains the process and tells Sam that she is under no obligation to donate the sale proceeds.
  • Sam agrees that if the net sales proceeds from the paintings are no more than £1,000 there is no need for the shop to contact her.
  • She completes a Gift Aid declaration naming the charity represented by the shop and also signs an agency agreement with the shop.
  • When they sort and price the goods, the shop links Sam's goods to her via a unique donor number on the price tag or a separate bar coded label.
  • Every time the shop sells any of these goods it records the amount received against her unique donor number.
  • At the end of the year the shop adds up the net sales proceeds from the sale of Sam's paintings and finds the total is £750.
  • As this is below £1,000 the shop does not need to write to Sam and the charity can claim Gift Aid on the £750 donation.
  • As Sam is not a higher rate taxpayer, she has told the shop that she does not need to be notified at the year end of the amount of money she has donated.

If there is a further sale in the year that raises net sales proceeds of £300, the charity will have to write to Sam to tell her the value of the net sales and ask her to contact the charity within 21 days if she wants to keep any of the proceeds.
If Sam asked for a letter at the end of the year informing her of the total amounts raised from her donations then the charity would send a letter after 5 April informing her of the total raised.

Record keeping for Gift Aid

3.51.17

For audit purposes the charity must retain all documentation associated with claims for Gift Aid on the proceeds from the sale of goods on behalf of individuals. This includes the following items:

  • The donor's dated Gift Aid declaration.
  • A copy of any written agreement with the individual under which the charity (or its subsidiary) is appointed as agent to sell goods on the person's behalf.
  • Records of any changes in process and the movement of individuals from one process to another.
  • Documentation to show that the individual has been notified of the net sale proceeds where required. 
  • Documentation confirming the individual's donation to the charity.
  • Internal accounting records to show how the goods are identified as belonging to a particular individual.
  • If the arrangements are made by a trading subsidiary of a charity, records to show how the net sales proceeds are remitted to the charity.

Charities are also advised to maintain records of staff/volunteer training and guidance, to demonstrate that all their staff and volunteers are implementing the process correctly.

Net sale proceeds

3.51.18

When a charity offers an individual the proceeds from the sale of their goods, or claims Gift Aid on the proceeds if they are donated to the charity, the proceeds in question are the 'net sale proceeds'. This means the sale proceeds after deduction of commission and any VAT charged on that commission.

If the charity or the trading company is VAT registered then it must charge VAT on the commission.
The commission and VAT charged by the charity or its trading company to the individual are not eligible for Gift Aid because this is a payment made under the terms of a contract.

Example four

  • John asks a charity shop run by a subsidiary trading company to sell a vase on his behalf and completes a Gift Aid declaration.
  • John is asked to sign an agency agreement under Method B and is told that there is a five per cent commission for handling the sale.
  • The vase sells for £1,050.
  • John has told the shop that he does not want to keep the sale proceeds.
  • The charity shop takes the commission of £52.50 plus £10.50 VAT out of the proceeds and passes the balance to the charity.
  • The charity can claim Gift Aid on £987 but not the £52.50 commission fee or £10.50 VAT.

As the charity shop is registered for VAT it must account for VAT on the commission fee as it is a charge for a taxable supply of services. If the goods were sold by a shop operated directly by the charity (where the limit is £100) and the charity was not registered for VAT there would be no VAT amount to deduct.

Agency Agreement

3.51.19

Charities must ensure that the agency agreements they use are legally binding contracts, not just for tax purposes. They must also ensure the donors understand this.

There is some flexibility in relation to the terms of the agreement. For example, where the net sales proceeds exceed an agreed limit of £1,000 by £200 then the terms of the agency agreement used will determine whether the individual has the right to receive the total amount of £1,200 or just the additional £200.

There needs to be a written agreement between the individual and the charity and the charity needs to record the fact the individual has made the agreement.  The agreement can therefore be something the individual signs or it can be in the form of a leaflet or information sheet given to the owner of the goods to take away that the individual consents to verbally. The form of the agreement is for the charity to decide but it must cover the following points:

Method A

  • The individual must be made aware that the charity is acting as agent in selling their goods
  • The individual must be made aware that they are not simply donating the goods but arranging for the charity to sell them on their behalf.
  • The agreement must specify the rate of commission charged for selling the individual's goods. Gift Aid can only be claimed on the balance donated after commission has been deducted.
  • The agreement should specify that unsold goods may be disposed of.
  • The agreement should specify that if the cumulative net sales proceeds are less than £100 in a tax year, the charity will not have to notify the individual.
  • It must allow the individual to choose to be notified of the net sales proceeds even if they are less than £100.
  • If the individual chooses to be notified, or if the goods net sales proceeds exceed £100, the agreement should specify that the individual needs to contact the charity within 21 days if they wish to ask for their money.
  • The agreement should specify that an end of year letter will not be sent, if cumulative net sales proceeds are less than £100 in a tax year, unless the individual requests one.

Method B

  • The individual must be made aware that the charity shop is acting as agent in selling their goods.
  • The individual must be made aware that they are not simply donating the goods but arranging for the shop to sell them on their behalf.
  • The agreement must specify the rate of commission charged for selling goods on behalf of the individual. Gift Aid can only be claimed on the balance donated after commission has been deducted.
  • The agreement should specify that unsold goods may be disposed of.
  • The agreement must specify that if the cumulative net sales proceeds are less than £1,000 in a tax year, the shop does not have to contact the individual.
  • It must allow the individual to choose to be notified, even if the net sales proceeds are less than £1,000.
  • If the individual chooses to be notified, or if the net sales proceeds of the goods exceed £1,000, the agreement must specify that the individual needs to contact the shop within 21 days if they wish to ask for their money.
  • The agreement should specify that an end of year letter will not be sent, if cumulative net sales proceeds are less than £1,000 in a tax year, unless the individual requests one.

Commission

3.51.20

The commission must be set at a reasonable rate to reflect the costs of operating the scheme and charities need to be able to provide a rationale for how they have set the commission rate. Where the agency arrangement is a business activity the commission is consideration for a taxable supply and VAT must be accounted for at the standard rate. If the commission fails to reflect the economic reality of the arrangement then the activity of acting as agent will not constitute a business for VAT purposes. In that case any VAT incurred on costs associated with the agency arrangement will not be recoverable by the charity or subsidiary trading company.

Any commission received by the charity or its trading company will be a trading receipt and potentially subject to income tax or corporation tax as well as VAT. For guidance about trading by charities see section 3.51.27

VAT

3.51.21

A simple gift of goods to a charity by a private individual will have no VAT implications for the donor or the charity.

3.51.22

The sale of donated goods by a charity (or by a trading company that donates its profits to the charity) is a zero-rated supply for VAT purposes. VAT incurred by a VAT registered charity in relation to these supplies can be reclaimed as input tax. There are no VAT reliefs available to CASCs so this paragraph applies only to charities.

When a charity or its trading company is acting as an agent, it is providing a service of selling goods on behalf of an individual and if it is VAT registered it will have to account for VAT on its commission charges.

When VAT is incurred on expenditure that directly relates to goods being sold through the agency arrangement, that VAT is not recoverable as input tax even if the charity or its trading company bears the cost. So if, for example, electrical goods need to be tested before they can be sold then any VAT charged on the costs of the testing cannot be recovered as input tax. This is because the goods still belong to the individual for whom the charity or trading company is acting as agent.

Further guidance on VAT can be found in The VAT Guide (Notice 700).

Download The VAT Guide

Moving to Method A or B

3.51.23

Charities wishing to implement a Gift Aid scheme for charity shops can use Method A or B, according to their circumstances. Method A and B are simplified processes for charity shops so that they do not have to write to customers so often.

3.51.24

If a charity is already claiming Gift Aid on sales made through charity shops and wishes to adopt a simplified process it can do so at any time. The £100 or £1,000 limit will then apply to the remaining part of the tax year. Only goods sold after the simplified process is implemented fall within the new arrangements.

The charity must consider how it will move its donors from one process to another. The easiest way is to move everyone at the start of a tax year but there is no requirement to do so and a charity can choose to run two processes simultaneously if it wishes.

For individuals who already have a Gift Aid declaration with the charity, the charity can either wait for them to visit a shop again and at that point ask them if they will sign up to the revised process or the charity can write to each one of them and explain that the process has changed. The charity can tell people that they will assume they are content for the new process to apply unless they let the charity know within 30 days. The charity should remind the individual of the need to have paid sufficient tax to cover the agreed limit as well as donations to other charities. It must also offer the individual the opportunity to receive a letter at the end of the tax year if the individual wants one.

3.51.25

In operating a simplified process, charities must accept that if, during an audit or other review, HMRC identified that there was insufficient tax to cover a donation then the charity would, if asked by HMRC, voluntarily repay the Gift Aid so that HMRC would not have to approach individual donors. The Gift Aid repaid would be for the claims being audited or reviewed and earlier claims where appropriate.

The charity would also accept that, as taxpayer confidentiality prevents HMRC from disclosing details of the relevant donors to the charity, all future Gift Aid claims would be restricted by the same percentage until a further audit was undertaken to check the level of non-taxpayers included in the sample claim.

The charity would be repaying the tax on behalf of the individual. However, in enabling this simplified process for applying Gift Aid, HMRC cannot forego its right to recover any unpaid tax from individual donors (under section 424 Income Tax Act 2007) in appropriate circumstances.

Involving commercial operators

3.51.26

Some charities may want to engage commercial operators to sell certain goods on behalf of the individual, who then donates the proceeds to the charity. This may happen if, for example, a charity shop puts some goods into an auction. In these circumstances the commercial operator may charge a commission, which is deducted from the sale proceeds. The commercial operator will almost certainly be VAT-registered and so will have to charge VAT on the commission.

The use of a third party that charges commission is a complicating factor but the charity or trading company could still act as agent for the individual in arranging the sale by auction. The auctioneer's commission and VAT would need to be deducted from the selling price before arriving at the amount that is due to the individual. The charity or trading company would then deduct its commission and VAT from this amount to arrive at the net sales proceeds. Under this arrangement the VAT charged on the auctioneer's commission is in effect borne directly by the individual so the charity/trading company has no right to recover it as input tax.

Example five

  • Fred asks a charity shop to sell a table on his behalf and completes a Gift Aid declaration.
  • Fred is asked to sign an agency agreement and is told that there is a five per cent commission for handling the sale.
  • The shop sends the table to an auction house for sale.
  • The table sells for £400.
  • The auction house deducts its commission of 10 per cent plus VAT, leaving £352.
  • The charity shop deducts its commission of £17.60 plus £3.52 VAT, leaving net sales proceeds of £330.88.
  • Fred tells the shop that he does not want to keep the sale proceeds.
  • The charity can claim Gift Aid on £330.88 but not the £17.60 commission fee, £3.52 VAT or the £48 paid to the auction house.

As long as the individual is under no obligation to give the proceeds to the charity then Gift Aid can be claimed on any amounts that are donated. Care should be taken to ensure that donations are given to the charity and that any Gift Aid declaration names that charity.

Trading income and charity shops

3.51.27

Where charities sell donated goods, which they own, the activity is not normally treated as trading and so any profits are not taxable. However, if they provide a service in return for payment, in this case by selling goods on behalf of others in return for a commission, that service may amount to taxable trading activity. If no commission is charged the charity will not be trading.
Regardless of whether a commission is charged, all direct and indirect costs incurred in selling goods on behalf of other people will be non-charitable expenditure, and may affect the charity's entitlement to tax exemption. This will be a departure from the current practice for charities used to selling only donated goods, which is not treated as a trading activity and does not normally involve non-charitable expenditure. There are also implications for VAT-registered charities, guidance is available at 31.51.22
To be acceptable under charity law the trustees will need to be aware that they are required to demonstrate that the likely proceeds of such activities are reasonably expected to exceed costs. In advance of implementing the process, charities should also consider their position should they be duped into selling stolen goods or goods on behalf of another trader.

Charities may consider that the use of a subsidiary trading company is more appropriate for these activities. The use of a trading company avoids the charity incurring non-charitable expenditure or putting charitable funds at risk. The trading company can then pass its profits to the charity under company Gift Aid, to minimise any corporation tax liability on the profits.

Considerations for the individual donating goods

3.51.28

Each individual must be aware that:

  • where a charity is selling valuable goods on their behalf, any capital gains tax liability will remain the responsibility of the individual (see 3.51.29 below)
  • the Gift Aid donation is the net proceeds (after any sales commission and VAT are deducted) from the sale of the goods that they agree the charity may keep
  • where they have paid less tax than the charity claims in Gift Aid on the net proceeds from the sale of their goods, HMRC can reclaim that tax from the individual
  • if they sell significant quantities of goods in this way they must also consider their own position in terms of income tax on trading activities
  • any trader providing trading goods for sale will need to include the full proceeds in their receipts and any commission charged as expenses in their accounts when calculating taxable profits

3.51.29

Capital Gains Tax

When an individual disposes of assets a charge to Capital Gains Tax can arise, depending on the nature of the asset and its value. Where an asset is a chattel (tangible moveable property) worth less than £6,000 any gain is not chargeable to Capital Gains Tax. Further guidance on this can be found at:

Is your asset liable to Capital Gains Tax?

Where a donor is aware that a particular asset will give rise to a capital gains charge when it is sold they may want to consider whether it is more beneficial to gift the asset directly to the charity instead. The donor will be able to claim relief from Capital Gains Tax on the disposal of the item to the charity. The charity will not be able to claim Gift Aid on their donation but the charity will not be charged Capital Gains Tax on the sale of the same asset as long as the gain is used for charitable purposes only.

3.52 Charity events

3.52.1

Charities often hold events (dinners, concerts, firework displays, etc.) to raise funds and this section explains whether all or part of the payment to attend the event can be Gift Aided.

3.52.2

To be eligible for the Gift Aid scheme a payment must be a freewill gift of money to charity, that is, there must be no compulsion about making the payment. So the payment must be a wholly voluntary payment and not linked to attendance at the event.

3.52.3

A payment to purchase a ticket (or an admission charge) to attend a charity event is not a gift to charity but the purchase of a right to attend the event. Without buying a ticket a person cannot attend the event, so there is no freewill in making a payment - that is, a person must pay the ticket price to attend the event. Such payments are not eligible for Gift Aid.

3.52.4

In the same way, a payment described as a 'minimum donation' or a 'donation' to attend an event is not a freewill payment. Again, a person must make the payment to attend the event. The 'minimum donation' or 'specified donation' is, in fact, the admission charge.

3.52.5

The following payments to attend an event are not gifts to charity:

  • Payment to purchase a ticket.
  • Payment to gain admission.
  • A required minimum donation.
  • A required specified donation.

All of the payments described must be paid in order to attend the event and so are not freewill gifts to charity. Such payments are not eligible for the Gift Aid scheme.

Ticket price plus a suggested donation

3.52.6

A charity can charge what it likes for a ticket to attend its event. However, it should not put the charity's funds at risk and, therefore, should set the ticket price at a level to at least recover its costs.

3.52.7

A charity can, therefore, charge a set ticket price (on which Gift Aid cannot be claimed) and, in addition, request a donation that can be Gift Aided. However, any suggested donation:

  • Must not be compulsory such that it has to be paid, in addition to the set ticket price, to attend the event. That is, the payer must be able to pay only the ticket price to attend the event.
  • The payer must be aware that the suggested donation is not compulsory and that they need only pay the set ticket price at the time they make the suggested donation (the ticket and/or event literature must make it clear).
  • The charity must not give any preferential treatment to those who do make a donation over those that choose not to. That is, the tickets must be allocated on a 'first come first served basis'.

3.52.8

A payment described as a 'minimum donation' or a 'specified donation' that has to be paid in addition to the set ticket price is not a freewill gift and cannot be Gift Aided. In these circumstances, the set ticket price plus the minimum donation or the specified donation is the actual ticket price and no part of the payment made (ticket price plus minimum/specified donation) can be Gift Aided.

Examples

A charity organises a dinner dance and incurs the following costs:

Hire of venue = £1,000
Catering costs = £3,000
Orchestra/singer = £2,000
Total costs = £6,000

The proposed number of attendees is 100 and the charity hopes to make (say) £4,000 on the event or £40 per attendee.

The cost per attendee is £60 (£6,000/100) and so the charity is looking at a set ticket price at £100 (£60 + £40).

Example one

The charity charges £100 for each ticket.

There is no gift to charity, all the proceeds (£10,000) are from ticket sales and none qualify as Gift Aid payments.

Note: sometimes a charity seeks to claim Gift Aid on the £4,000 (£40 per person) on the basis that the amount over and above the costs is a donation. However, the £4,000 (proceeds £10,000 less costs £6,000) is a profit and not a donation.

Example two

The charity charges £65 per ticket and also asks for a minimum donation of £35.

To attend the dinner an attendee must pay £100 (£65 + the minimum donation of £35). A person may not buy a ticket or attend by only paying £65.

There is no gift, the whole of the £100 is a compulsory payment to attend the dinner and no part of it is eligible for the Gift Aid scheme.

Example three

The charity charges £80 per ticket and, in addition, asks for a suggested donation of £20. The charity makes it clear on the back of the ticket that the £20 is only a suggested donation and that attendance at the dinner can be obtained by only paying the set ticket price of £80.

The £80 paid for the ticket cannot be Gift Aided.

However, as the charity made it clear that a payment to attend the dinner was only £80 (the set cost of a ticket) then any payment made in excess of the £80 can be Gift Aided. So the suggested £20 donation or any other donation in excess of the £80 paid for a ticket can be Gift Aided.

Example four

The charity charges £100 for each ticket. However, a benefactor pays the full cost (£6,000) to the charity so that it can pay for the dinner.

For Gift Aid purposes, the situation is exactly the same as for example one.

Who meets, or how the costs are met, is not important when determining whether a payment to attend the dinner is a gift. The charge to attend the event remains at £100 even though the charity's cost is met by the benefactor. So, none of the £100 payment can be Gift Aided.

Note: the benefactor has made a gift to the charity of £6,000 and so he can Gift Aid his £6,000 gift provided all the requirements of the Gift Aid scheme are satisfied. Any free tickets (£100 each) given to the benefactor are benefits for the purposes of the Gift Aid benefit limit (which are £300 for a £6,000 donation) - so one free ticket valued at £100 is within the Gift Aid benefit limit.

Example five

The charity charges £100 for each ticket. However, the venue/orchestra/caterer all waive their charges and so it costs the charity nothing to put on the dinner dance.

None of the £100 paid can be Gift Aided as it is a payment to purchase a ticket to attend the dinner.

Unlike example four, the venue/orchestra/caterer cannot Gift Aid their contributions because they have not made any payments to charity but simply waived their fees – that is, there is no payment of 'a sum of money'.

Example six

The charity decides that it will not make any charge to attend the event and will rely on expected donations from previous donors to more than cover costs.

Charity trustees are obliged to take proper care of charity funds and not expose them to undue risk. Any trustees considering this kind of approach would have to be able to demonstrate that they had made a properly informed and considered decision that a better return on funds laid out could be achieved by not charging for tickets. Failure to do this could result in the costs being treated as non-charitable expenditure and the trustees being personally liable for any loss of funds. Professional advice should be taken before embarking upon such a course. Donations received in such circumstances could be eligible for Gift Aid.