Add 25% to the value of donations to your group, under the Gift Aid scheme.
This guidance covers:
- What is Gift Aid and why is it worth doing?
- How to register for Gift Aid with HMRC
- What types of income qualify for Gift Aid?
- Gift Aid declarations and other information to collect and keep
- How to compile and submit a claim
What is Gift Aid and why is it worth doing
What is Gift Aid?
Gift Aid allows charities to claim an extra 25p for every £1 an individual donates.
Effectively, HMRC repays the tax paid by a UK taxpayer before the donation is made.
A donor must not pay less Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax than the amount of Gift Aid claimed on all their donations (not just ones made to your charity) in that tax year. Otherwise, they will be liable to, and responsible for, repaying any difference to HMRC.
Why it is worth doing - an example
For all taxpayers: if someone donates £10, your charity can reclaim a further £2.50 from HMRC (the individual will have had to earn £12.50 to donate £10, assuming basic rate tax of 20%). Equivalently, for your group to receive £100, an individual donor must give £80, and you will reclaim £20.
For higher rate taxpayers, your charity has a better argument. If an individual donates £10, your group reclaims £2.50; and the taxpayer reclaims another £2.50 from HMRC on their self-assessment tax return at the end of the tax year (the difference between the basic rate tax which the charity reclaims and the 40% higher rate). It costs the donor only £7.50 to enable your group to receive £12.50. Equivalently, for your group to receive £100, it would cost a higher rate taxpayer only £60.
For additional rate taxpayers (45%), income tax relief increases to 25%, costing a donor £55 for the charity to receive £100.
And for very high earners, Gift Aid donations may be used to extend the threshold before they lose their tax-free personal allowance.
Make sure your higher rate donors are aware of these extra benefits. It may encourage them to give more.
Gift Aid across the UK
Gift Aid can be claimed by UK charities. This includes charities registered with the Charity Commission or OSCR (Scotland) and also charities that are too small to register. These charities can still get recognition as a charity from HMRC and claim Gift Aid.
The Welsh government and Scottish parliament can set their own income tax rates for their taxpayers. However, HMRC collects income tax throughout the UK.
In relation to Gift Aid, this means charities in Wales and Scotland will still be able to claim tax at the UK basic rate (i.e., the rate applicable in England and Northern Ireland) and so will get the same amount of Gift Aid as charities elsewhere in the UK.
If the basic rate in Wales or Scotland is different from the UK rate, the taxpayer's tax will be adjusted to allow for the amount of relief provided to the charity. Higher or additional rate taxpayers will be able to claim tax relief on the difference between the UK basic rate and the Scottish/Welsh higher or additional rate.
How to register for Gift Aid with HMRC
You will need to register your group with HMRC before you can claim Gift Aid.
HMRC recognition and registration
In order to claim Gift Aid you will need to be recognised as a charity with HMRC but do not have to be registered with the Charity Commission or OSCR, hold a charity registration number. This means you can still claim Gift Aid if you have a charitable constitution but are unable to register with the Charity Commission because your income is below £5,000 a year. If you are unsure about your charitable status please contact us.
You can apply for recognition as a charity by using HMRC’s online service or by completing form ChA1.
In order to register with HMRC you will need your charity’s:
- bank account details and financial accounts
- officials’ details including dates of birth and National Insurance numbers
- registration number if registered with the Charity Commission or OSCR
- governing document (or constitution) - this explains how your charity is run
- charitable objectives (or purposes – from your constitution)
If you apply for recognition/registration online, you will be required to set up a Government Gateway account. You can do this by selecting ‘Create sign in details’ when asked to ‘Sign in using Government Gateway’. You will be prompted to select a password and will be given a unique 12-digit User ID. Make a record of both this User ID and the password you have selected, as you will need them to log in and make claims.
You should decide in advance who in your organisation is authorised to hold these details and submit a claim.
Changes to your organisations details or signatories can be made on form ChV1.
Before you can claim
In order to claim Gift Aid online, you will need to add Charities Online to your Government Gateway account.
To do this you will need to log into using your Government Gateway User ID and password. If you set these up under Step 1, you can use the same details. If you did not, for example because your application for HMRC recognition was made by post, you need to set one up by clicking on ‘Create sign in details’, taking a note of the User ID and password you set up.
Once logged in, you can add Gift Aid to your account under ‘add a tax, duty, or scheme’ by selecting ‘Other tax or scheme’ and then ‘Charities – for Gift Aid repayment claims’.
Once the registration process is complete, you will receive an activation code in the post. This normally takes around a week to arrive and is valid for 28 days.
When you have this code, you need to use it activate your account by logging in to HMRC Online Services using the user ID and password you set up earlier. Under ‘Charities’ (which should be listed as one of the ‘services you can use’) you then need to:
- select ‘activate service’
- enter the activation code
- select ‘activate’.
What types of income qualify for Gift Aid?
In general, donations must be made:
- from individuals
- in monetary form
- without benefit to the donor in return
- by a UK taxpayer (not necessarily resident in the UK), paying at least as much income tax or capital gains tax in that tax year as the Gift Aid to be claimed
- accompanied by a Gift Aid declaration giving permission to claim
Donations to a charity by individuals
Any monetary donation to a charity from a UK taxpayer is potentially eligible for Gift Aid.
All that is required to claim the relief is information showing who has given, how much and a declaration that the donor wants the tax to be reclaimed (which can be a written document, or a record of a declaration made in person, by phone, text, email or online form).
Gift Aid declarations can be retrospective to cover the preceding four years; there is no minimum donation to qualify for tax relief; and donors do not have to agree to go on giving money for a fixed period of time. The only limit on the size of the donations is set by individuals' total UK tax liability - tax relief cannot be reclaimed that is greater than the total income tax and capital gains tax they are liable to pay.
Donations to a registered charity by companies
Charities cannot claim Gift Aid on donations from companies. A company making a monetary gift to a charity pays the gross amount of the donation to the charity and receives a deduction from its own corporation tax liability.
Donors must donate their own money. A claim cannot be made if a donation represents a collection from a group of people.
A charity must not make claims under the Gift Aid Scheme in respect of payments which have already received tax relief. This includes payments received in the form of charity voucher (e.g., CAF voucher), from a Payroll Giving Agency in respect of payments made under the Payroll Giving Scheme, or through an intermediary claiming Gift Aid on the charity’s behalf (e.g., JustGiving). The collecting organisation will be able to advise you on the Gift Aid status of the donations made through them.
With two exceptions, Gift Aid is only available for monetary donations, such as donations made in cash, by cheque, direct debit, standing order or bank transfer. Donations of other assets and gifts in kind do not qualify for Gift Aid.
Exception 1 – Refund waivers
HMRC allows Gift Aid to be eligible on any refund donated to charities in lieu of cancelled tickets or debts not to be collected. If an event is cancelled (not postponed), your group can claim Gift Aid on the value of a waived ticket refund if the ticketholder agrees to turn this into a donation. Assuming the following conditions are met you can keep the value of the ticket instead of issuing a refund, and then claim Gift Aid on the ticket price:
- The individual agrees that the cost of their ticket becomes a non-refundable donation, and the charity keeps a record of this agreement
- The individual does not receive a benefit as a result of their donation
- The individual completes a Gift Aid declaration
This only applies to cancelled events. Not cancelled tickets for events that go ahead.
Exception 2 – Retail Gift Aid Scheme
The Retail Gift Aid Scheme allows charity shops to obtain Gift Aid on the sale of donated goods.
Donations made by contactless card methods (e.g., Goodbox, Zettle) may be eligible for Gift Aid if they can be linked directly to an individual donor (e.g. if a terminal offers the ability to create a Gift Aid declaration, or if both the donor and charity are registered with SwiftAid).
Alternatively, contactless card donations of £30 or less may be eligible for Gift Aid through the Gift Aid small donations scheme (GASDS).
Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS)
The GASDS allows charities to claim Gift Aid on small donations of £30 or less without requiring the donor to provide a Gift Aid declaration or to have paid sufficient UK tax. This includes donations from a bucket shake or, since 6 April 2019, on contactless card donations.
There are conditions to the scheme:
- You must be recognised as a charity for tax purposes and registered as a charity with HMRC
- You must make a successful Gift Aid claim in the tax year
- You must not have incurred any Gift Aid penalties in the current or previous tax year
- You must claim within 2 years of the end of the tax year that the donations were collected in
- GASDS claims must be made through Charities Online, not on paper forms
- The donation must not have had any benefits associated with it. Although something like a sticker to acknowledge a donation would be fine
- The identity of the donor must not be known (so cheques are not eligible). If the identity of the donor is known, then a valid Gift Aid declaration must be sought, and Gift Aid claimed through the usual method.
- GASDS should not be used for collecting member subscriptions (specifically excluded by HMRC)
- The maximum amount of GASDS payment you can claim is capped at the lower of £8,000 or 10 times the amount you receive in Gift Aid donations in that tax year (known as the matching rule). This means the maximum amount claimable in the year is £2,000. Example:
- If you claim £400 in Gift Aid you claim top-up payments on £4,000 worth of small donations - this would work out at a £1,000 payment under GASDS
- If you claim £1,100 in Gift Aid you could claim on £8,000 worth of small donations - which would work out at a £2,000 payment.
- All claims for GASDS must be made on a tax year basis, not the accounting period of the charity, so the Gift Aid donations to be taken into account must also be considered on a tax year basis
- You must bank the small cash donations and not use the cash to pay for other expenses, to provide an audit trail to your bank statement.
You can find more information about the GASDS on the HMRC website.
The general principal is that donations must be freely given without the donor (or a person connected to them) expecting anything in return.
There are limits on any benefits a donor can receive before the payment ceases to be considered a donation.
Acknowledgments, such as a simple thank in your programme, would not count as a benefit but where benefits are an item or service, for example a free CD or free entry to an event, that would not count as a donation. Promotional charity literature, such as newsletters, annual reports, journals, members’ handbooks and programmes of events are generally considered to carry no benefit.
If the value of a benefit does not exceed the limits below you can still claim Gift Aid on a donation. The value is the value to the donor, not the cost to your group – so the value would be the retail/commercial cost of the CD or event ticket.
Maximum value of benefit
Less than £100
25% of donation amount
£25 plus 5% of anything over £100, up to a maximum value benefit of £2,500
If the benefit is attendance at an event that is not open to the public (so there is no ticket price), the value of the benefit should be calculated with reference to the cost of the event to you and the number of guests.
If several donations and benefits are linked, they may have to be treated as one.
Splitting a payment into a donation element
It may be possible to split a payment between a donation and a payment for a benefit. Several conditions must be met before Gift Aid can be claimed on the donation element:
- The benefit must be available for purchase by members of the public who choose not to donate
- At the time of making the donation, the donor is aware of the value of the benefit they will receive
- You must keep evidence of supplying this information and document the calculations for valuing the benefit element.
It may be simpler to request separate payments for donations and other services.
For more about valuing donor benefits, see the HMRC website.
Please note that this guidance about benefits applies to donations only and distinct from the advice about membership subscriptions below.
There are rules within the Gift Aid legislation that allow charities to claim Gift Aid on membership subscriptions, even though they are not gifts. We have separate guidance on claiming Gift Aid on membership subscriptions.
Gift Aid declarations and other information to collect and keep
The donor must make a declaration of who they are, how much they are giving, and that they want tax to be reclaimed. Declarations can be in writing, or given verbally or electronically. Formally, a declaration requires:
- The donor's first name (‘strongly encouraged’ over just an initial) and full surname
- The donor's home address, including house name or number and postcode
- The charity's name
- Amount of donation
- A description of the donations that the declaration relates to (present/future/past)
- A declaration or tick box that the donations are to be given as Gift Aid donations
- The date of the declaration
- Confirmation the donor understands that:
- The charity will reclaim 25p of tax on every £1 that they have given
- They (the donor) need to pay the same amount or more of UK Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax as all charities and CASCs will claim on their gifts in a tax year and they (the donor) are responsible for paying any difference.
The declaration can be given before, at the same time as, or up to four years after the donation. This means you can claim Gift Aid on eligible donations made within the last four years as well as on current and future donations.
Declarations can be in writing, verbally or electronically.
In writing: this is normally done through a declaration form. Always use the up-to-date HMRC model Gift Aid declaration form which you may tailor with your group’s own branding. Check the donor has completed the declaration correctly.
- Template for written declaration of single donation
- Template for written declaration to cover multiple donations
Verbal: this can be in person or over the phone, You must explain the tax situation (see ‘Confirmation the donor understands that…’ bullet point above) and send a written record of the full declaration, i.e., a note covering all the points set out above.
Electronic: this can be by text message, website form or by email. Again, you need to collect the same details as on a paper declaration and confirm these in writing.
For verbal and electronic declarations, you can use Making Music’s Record of Gift Aid Declaration template letter to confirm the declaration in writing.
Donors have the right to cancel a Gift Aid declaration at any time. If an 'oral donor' cancels within 30 days from the date of the written record you send them, the declaration will be cancelled completely, and no tax should be reclaimed by the charity.
You must retain evidence of all declarations for at least six years after the last donation to which it applies, or longer if it will apply to future donations.
Record keeping & audits
Gift Aid declarations and the associated donation records must be kept for as long as Gift Aid is claimed against that declaration, which may be indefinitely.
Once a donor stops making donations, or a declaration is time limited, the declaration and records should be kept for seven years.
It is important that good records of donations, Gift Aid declarations, benefit calculations and minutes of discussions are kept and transferred when the Treasurer of your group changes.
HMRC conducts audits of Gift Aid claims and will ask to see a sample of records.
As with all record keeping, the organisation will need to make sure it meets Data Protection requirements.
HMRC compliance review
As part of an HMRC compliance review, a random sample of charities that claim Gift Aid are receiving letters asking them to file a Corporation Tax Return (form CT600E).
Most charities never have to complete a Corporation Tax Return as they have tax reliefs that means they are exempt. However, if you receive a letter from HMRC as part of their compliance review you should file a return even if no tax is due (failure to do so may result in a penalty.) HMRC are looking at charities with higher Gift Aid claims so it is unlikely to affect our members – but if you do receive a notice, get in touch and we can help.
How to compile and submit a claim
Compiling the claim
When making your claim, you will need to supply HMRC with details of all the donations on which you are claiming a Gift Aid repayment. It is therefore sensible to pull this information together in advance of going through the online claim process.
Making a claim
Details of donations can be submitted online through your Government Gateway account using a Gift Aid schedule spreadsheet. HMRC have a template available. This indicates the detail required and explains how to report donations under £20 and donations from sponsored events.
Donation data may be entered or copy and pasted onto the spreadsheet. It can only be used to claim for a maximum of 1,000 donations at a time.
As you upload the spreadsheet, the HMRC system checks the entries for errors. You have to make sure all your records fit the HMRC permitted format, or the upload will be rejected.
You can claim as often as you need to, but you may find it useful to make a claim towards the end of your financial year in order to account for as much Gift Aid as possible in the same year as the equivalent donations.
If you are a larger charity using compliant donor management software, you may be able to use this software to submit claims directly to HMRC.
A paper claim form (ChR1) can be ordered from the HMRC Charities helpline (0300 123 1073). The ChR1 will be scanned on receipt so you must send the original form and not a photocopy.
- You must provide the donor’s address in addition to the donor’s name, donation date and donation amount. If the donor’s address is in the UK, you have to provide a valid UK postcode. You can use a postcode lookup database if the donor has not provided a postcode. If the donor advises a change of address, you must use the new address for claims from then on.
- Where you receive multiple donations from one individual in the period for which you are submitting a claim, you can add all these donations together and include them on one line of the sheet. All the personal details must be included as usual, but the date of donation should be the date of the last donation the individual gave to you in the claim period and the total should be that of the combined donations they made to you in the claim period.
- You can aggregate up to £1,000 of donations of £20 or less onto a single claim line (see aggregated claims below(.
- For sponsored events, you can list donations by event participant rather than donor. However, individual donations of £500 or more must be separated out and listed by donor.
Aggregated Donations: Where you receive a number of donations of £20 or less from different donors in one claim period these can be added together and included on one line of the sheet. The total on one line cannot be higher than £1,000.
You do not need to include the name and address for the individuals ‘aggregated’ together on this line but must instead include:
- a simple description like ‘Thursday club donors’ in the ‘aggregated donations’ box (maximum of 35 characters)
- the date of the last donation
- the total amount raised
- For aggregated donations the identity of the donor must be known, and a valid gift aid declaration must be in place for them.
- This is not the same as a GASDS claim and GASDS donations must not be claimed on the main gift aid form through this method. See the GASDS section above for more information on GASDS claims.
Submitting a claim
Once your Charities Online account is registered and activated (Step 2 above), you can use it to claim back Gift Aid.
In order to do so, you need to:
- Log into your account using the User ID and password generated during registration
- Go to the page ‘Services you can use’
- Select, next to ‘Charities’:
- ‘access service’; and then
- ‘make a charity repayment claim’
You will be asked questions about the type of claim you are making and about your charity.
You will then be asked to fill in a ‘repayment claim details’ page with details of the donations on which you wish to claim Gift Aid. You can supply these by attaching the schedule spreadsheet you compiled.
Usually, you will receive a Gift Aid payment by BACS within:
- 4 weeks if you claimed online
- 5 weeks if you claimed by post using form ChR1
There are deadlines which apply for claiming Gift Aid. Broadly these are:
- Gift Aid - four years from the end of the financial period in which the donation was received (financial period being the accounting year for charitable companies or the tax year for charities which are not also companies).
- Gift Aid under the small donations scheme (GASDS) – 2 years from the end of the tax year the donations were collected in.
Further information and guidance is available from HMRC
- Claiming Gift Aid as a charity or CASC
- Claim tax back on donations using Charities Online
- Claiming Gift Aid online
We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.