What Does Registration with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland Really Mean?

Many groups believe that their exemption with HMRC means they are already a registered charity. This is not the case and failure to apply for full charitable status with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, could mean many losing this tax status!

Will registration with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland mean automatic charitable tax status with HMRC?

No, you will have to first apply to register with the Commission as a charity before applying separately to HMRC for charitable tax status.

If you already have charitable tax status with HMRC prior to registering with the Commission, you will not need to reapply to HMRC and your HMRC reference number will remain the same.

I have already registered with HMRC, why do I have to register again?

HMRC do not regulate charities. This role falls specifically to the Commission and as a consequence makes charities much more accountable to the public.

Holding an HMRC number means that your organisation has been granted charitable tax exemptions by HMRC, which makes its assessment under the Finance Act 2010. It does not mean your organisation is a registered charity.

Only organisations which have successfully registered with the Commission will be classed as charities. Each registered charity will receive a unique NIC (Northern Ireland Charity) number.

I would like to start a new charity – do I need to register with the Commission before I apply to HMRC regarding Gift Aid?

Yes, as registration has now commenced, you will need to successfully register as a charity with the Commission first in order to apply to HMRC for charitable tax exemptions. Registration with the Commission is not a guarantee of receiving charitable tax status with HMRC, which makes an independent assessment under the Finance Act.

If you have started a new a new charity, please complete the online Expression of intent form to provide your details to the Commission, enabling you to be called forward to apply for charity registration.

While I am waiting to register, can I still claim Gift Aid?

Yes, while you are awaiting registration as a charity with the Commission, it will still be possible to claim Gift Aid if you have already been granted charitable tax status by HMRC.

If you are successfully registered as a charity by the Commission, you will not need to reapply to HMRC for charitable tax status and your HMRC number will remain the same

If I am not registered, will I lose my HMRC status?

If you are unsuccessful in the registration process, the Commission will notify HMRC.  HMRC provide charitable tax benefits under the Finance Act 2010 and any decision to remove charitable benefits will be reassessed by them. 

If you do not make your application for registration within three months from the date at which your organisation is called forward, the Commission will notify HMRC that your application has not been submitted and your gift aid entitlement may be withdrawn/suspended until your application is submitted.

How much does it cost to apply?

There is no fee to apply for registration as a charity in Northern Ireland. 
Are there penalties for not applying?

There are no exceptions or exemptions to applying for charity registration, which is compulsory for all charities.

Failure to apply to register when called forward, or failing to supply us with the required documents and information, is a breach of the Charities Act and the Commission may pursue the issue through the courts. It will also result in the loss of your recognition as a charity, including for tax purposes, which could mean HMRC will no longer pay Gift Aid to your organisation. 
Will I have to apply every year?

No, registration is a one off process. However, you will be required to notify us of any change, for example if your charity closes, and keep us updated on your activities via the annual reporting regime for registered charities.

In the future it will be compulsory for all registered charities to provide information on their activities, governance and finances on an annual basis and submit their accounts and reports to the Commission for inspection. Providing information to the Commission on an annual basis will be known as ‘annual reporting’ and it is intended that the annual reporting programme will consist of three main elements:

  • Annual monitoring return
  • Annual accounts
  • Trustee annual report

Further information can be obtained by contacting us. Just ask for either Martin or Roger when calling, or visiting us at 47 John Street, Cityside, Derry. BT48 6JY.

Last updated 1 year 5 months ago