How to claim Gift Aid for your group

This guidance describes the current situation with regard to Gift Aid and the leisure time music sector. It will cover;

  1. What is Gift Aid and why is it worth doing?
  2. Claiming on donations where a Gift Aid declaration is required from the individual
  3. Claiming on small donations where a Gift Aid declaration is not required from the individual
  4. Claiming on Membership subscriptions
  5. Registering, claiming and keeping records
  1. What is Gift Aid and why is it worth doing

What is Gift Aid?

Gift Aid is a scheme that means if a UK taxpayer makes a donation to a charity the charity can reclaim tax on the donation from HMRC, effectively increasing the amount of the donation.  For a basic-rate taxpayer, this adds approximately 25% to the value of any gift made under Gift Aid.

Gift Aid can be claimed by UK charities. This includes charities registered with the Charity Commission (England and UK) 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.

Why it's worth doing - an arithmetic example

You run a cultural charity. For all taxpayers: if someone gives you £10, you can reclaim a further £2.50 (basic rate at 20%) from HMRC. For you to receive £100, someone needs to give you £80, and you reclaim the £20. For higher rate taxpayers, your charity has a better argument. If someone gives you £10, you reclaim £2.50; and the taxpayer also reclaims another £2.50 from the Revenue (the difference between the basic rate tax which the charity reclaims and the higher rate) at the end of the tax year. It costs the donor only £7.50 to enable you to get £12.50.  Equivalently, for you to receive £100, it would cost the higher rate taxpayer only £60.

Lower rate taxpayers

Provided that the donor has paid sufficient tax, their status in this respect is irrelevant. If the donor pays 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 they will be liable to, and responsible for, paying any difference to HMRC.

Gift Aid in Wales and Scotland

The Welsh government and Scottish parliament can set its 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.

  1. Claiming on donations made to a charity – where a Gift Aid declaration is required from the individual

Donations to a registered charity by individuals

Any donation - however large or small - to a charity from a taxpayer is eligible for income tax relief. 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 registration of a gift made by phone or by the internet). Donors do not need to fill in complex forms; 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 tax liability - tax relief cannot be reclaimed that is greater than the total tax they are liable to pay.

Donations to a registered charity by companies

Charities cannot claim Gift Aid on donation from companies. Companies making a gift of cash to a charity pay the gross amount of the donation to the charity and claim it as a deduction from its corporation tax liability. The charity is thereby spared the job of reclaiming tax from the Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Cancelled event tickets 

You can claim Gift Aid on the value of a cancelled event ticket if the ticketholder agrees to a donation, instead of claiming a refund. 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 fee:

  • The individual agrees that the cost of their ticket becomes a donation, and the charity keeps an audit trail of this agreement.
  • The individual does not receive a benefit as a result of their donation.
  • The individual completes a Gift Aid declaration.

Gift Aid declarations

Charities simply need to make a 'declaration' of who the donor is, how much they are giving you, and that they want tax to be reclaimed. Declarations can be in writing, or given verbally or electronically, and charities may devise their own forms.

Formally, a declaration requires:

  • The donor's first name and full surname
  • The donor's address, including housename/number and postcode
  • The charity's name
  • Amount of donation
  • A description of the donations declaration relate 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 (but declarations can be retrospective to the preceding four years
  • Conformation the donor understands that:
    • The charity will reclaim 25p of tax on every £1 that they have given
    • They (the donor) needs to pay the same amount or more of UK Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax as all charities and CASCs will claim on thir gifts in a tax year and they (the donor) is responsible for paying any difference.

Declarations can be verbal - in which case you must send the donor a written record of the declaration, i.e. a note covering the points set out above. Declarations can be also be made over the phone or by email. Again, you need to confirm with a note. 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.


Sometimes charities give donor’s something in return for a donation as a thank you. This is called a benefit – and there are limits on what benefits a donor can receive before the payment ceases to be considered a donation.

Acknowledgments (such as a mention in your programme as a thank you to a donor would not count as a benefit. Generally, benefits are are an item or service, for example a free CD or free entry to an event would be a benefit.

As long as the value of that benefit does not exceed the limits below you can still claim Gift aid on it. The value is the value to the donor, not the cost to you – so the value would be the retail/commercial cost of the CD or event ticket.

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.  The valuation will depend on the nature of the event. E.g. for exclusive events it would not be appropriate to simply value the benefit as the provision of food and drink as in most cases the intended benefit is the invitation to the exclusive events rather than the provision of basic food and drink at such occasions.Red

more about valuing donor benefits on the HMRC website

Donation Amount

Maximum value of benefit

Less than £100

25% of donation amount

Over £101

£25 plus 5% of anything over £100, up to a maximum value benefit of £2,500

Please note that this guidance about benefits applies to bona fide donations only and may not also be used in conjunction with the advice about membership subscriptions below.

  1. Claiming on small donations - where a Gift Aid declaration is not required form the individual

Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme

The Small Charitable Donations Act 2012 means charities can claim Gift Aid style top-up payments on small donations of £30 or less without requiring the donor to provide a Gift Aid declaration. This could include things like donations made in a bucket shake. It is called the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS). There are conditions to be aware of:

  • You must have claimed Gift Aid in the same tax year as you want to claim a GASDS top-up payment
  • You must not have incurred a penalty on a Gift Aid or GASDS claim in the current or previous tax year
  • The donation must not have had any benefits associated with it. Although something like a sticker to acknowledge the donation would be fine.
  • The maximum amount of small donations top up payment you can claim on is the lower of £8,000 or 10 times the amount you receive in Gift Aid donations (known as the matching rule). 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.
  • You can claim on donations made using contactless debit and credit cards.  

If you are making claims on donations made before 6 April 2017 some different conditions apply:

  • As above you must have claimed Gift Aid in the same year and have incurred any penalties in the current or previous year. 
  • In addition you must have existed for at least 2 complete tax years
  • The maximum you can claim is £5,000 worth of small donations or 10 times the amount you receive in Gift Aid donations
  • You cannot claim contactless payments – only cash donations.  

You can find more in information on the HMRC website.

  1. Claiming on membership subscriptions

Membership subscriptions

Although membership subscriptions are not donations, there are some circumstances in which they can be considered eligible for Gift Aid by HMRC. This is a concession which focuses on charities achieving their charitable objectives.

The conditions attaching to the concession are that the membership subscriptions:

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

Having consulted with HMRC, we can advise that they regard rehearsal costs of a performing group (ie a vocal or instrumental group whose members participate in music making) as a charitable expense incurred by the group, and that they do not represent a tangible benefit to the individual members of the group. Hence the group may treat subscription payments from members in the same way as a donation for the purposes of reclaiming tax on behalf of those members, assuming they have paid tax at the appropriate rate and are prepared to sign a Gift Aid declaration.

Tuition, on the other hand, is considered to be a use of facilities or services, and as such, if a subscription includes a payment for any tuition the subscription will not qualify for Gift Aid treatment under the concession to that extent because it fails to meet condition (ii) above.

HMRC has asked us to advise members to take a closer look at the issue of tuition in their activities, to ensure that any costs associated with the provision of tuition are separated from what is classified as the membership subscription, and not included in any Gift Aid claims. See 'Assessing membership subscriptions for Gift Aid eligibility' below.

It is difficult to think of any other possible ‘benefits’ a member may receive in return for their subscription, but groups should bear in mind the benefit rules when arranging ticket deals for members (see next paragraph) and eg if arranging trips for members.

Music club; Payments for season tickets are not eligible for Gift Aid. However, if members wished to make a voluntary donation in excess of the purchase price of the season ticket then Gift Aid may apply to the excess providing: 

  • they are not required to pay a set amount
  • provision of the season ticket is not dependent upon the individual making a donation
  • all the other requirements of the Gift Aid scheme are met i.e. Benefit rules, Gift Aid Declaration

Educational establishments such as summer schools cannot Gift Aid their subscriptions where the benefit is tuition and where tuition is paid for (any payment whether or not tuition is provided isn’t a gift to the charity but a payment for goods or services namely attendance at the event/summers school). Even if tuition is received free of charge the members receive a benefit equal to the commercial cost of an MD providing tuition and if this as a consequence of Membership it is a benefit which would need to be taken into account for Gift Aid purposes.

Assessing membership subscriptions for Gift Aid eligibility

It is impossible to give blanket guidance on this subject since the issue of tuition is open to interpretation. Making Music member organisations operate in different ways in pursuing their charitable objects: some will inevitably consider that rehearsals preparing their members for a public performance are effectively providing tuition to those individuals; whilst others may regard the rehearsal period prior to a concert simply as a means of preparation towards an artistic interpretation and therefore their participants are not receiving tuition in order to do this but are already fully formed in their capabilities. It is important that members take a considered view in their own organisations as to what extent members benefit from an element of tuition.

HMRC has asked Making Music to help ensure that members are aware of the rules regarding Gift Aid claims and of how to calculate the eligibility of member subscriptions within the scheme.

Here are some guidelines for assessing to what extent your activities enable your membership subscriptions to qualify for Gift Aid under the concession, and what should be excluded:

1. With your committee and conductor/Music Director you should review your activities, particularly rehearsals, and take a view on to what extent they constitute tuition. For example:

  • What is the typical personal journey for members between beginning a new piece of music and performing it?
  • How much of the Music Director’s approach is about teaching or training members and equipping them with the right skills or understanding to be able to perform the music before them?
  • Do members learn how to sing or play, and are they enhancing their ability to do so as a direct result of participating in rehearsals?
  • Is part of your rehearsal process to be led by your music director or conductor note by note in order to learn your respective parts?

We advise that rehearsal practice which involves the choir being taken through the music in detail, eg in order for members of the choir to learn their parts, is usually treated as involving an element of tuition, although each case needs to be decided upon its own particular facts.

2. If you have identified an element of the rehearsal provision which you consider to be tuition to members, you now need to assess what proportion of your costs  (e.g. the fee of the  Music Director, or part thereof) is attributable to tuition.

Members will then need to pay a corresponding tuition fee which covers this tuition cost, separate from their membership subscription. Members may still make a single payment to your organisation, so long as they are clear about how this is divided into a membership subscription and a tuition fee. The membership subscription should then include only those benefits such as rehearsal facilities which contribute towards the organisation meeting its charitable objectives. Such a membership subscription can then be considered as the qualifying total for Gift Aid purposes under the concession.

NB Even if you decide that all of your Music Director’s fees are incurred in the provision of tuition, it will be likely that other costs associated with your activities (eg. rehearsal venue hire, refreshments, accompanist, music hire, etc) will not be considered as the provision of personal benefits by HMRC and will therefore not prevent a portion of the payment you receive from members from satisfying the terms of the concession.

See Appendix below for an example calculation.

Please note

  1. You must ensure that you calculate the amounts that do and do not qualify for Gift Aid in advance of the membership year in question, and not afterwards.
  2. The calculation must be based on known fixed costs where possible. Any required cost estimates should be based on the previous years cost in the absence of a more accurate indicator.
  3. In the unlikely event that the amount collected from the individual member in payment of non-qualifying subscription fees is higher than that originally advised to the member in advance, any amount over and above the original advised amount cannot be considered eligible for Gift Aid.
  4. Payments from members should be separated into a general membership subscription, which is eligible for Gift Aid, and a tuition fee, which is not. In this way the fees are clearly separate, and it is clear to the member in advance what they are paying for and what is and is not eligible. Members may continue to make a single payment for the total.
  5. Payments made by an individual for somebody else's membership do not qualify for Gift Aid, for example where an individual pays for the annual membership subscription of his or her spouse. The payment will qualify if it is made by a parent or legal guardian on behalf of a child under the age of 18, or if it is for a family membership that includes the donor.
  6. Because membership subscriptions are not gifts, and HMRC makes a concession to consider them eligible for Gift Aid, any payments will, of course, still have to satisfy the benefit rules described above and in more detail on the HMRC website.

A final note

It is important to be mindful of the fact that the HMRC concession to membership associations in qualifying for Gift Aid is due directly to the fact that such organisations are pursuing charitable objects. If your group is a full member of Making Music then it will be a charity with a charitable governing document, which means that first and foremost your activities should be focused on achieving your charitable objects.

  1. Registering, claiming and keeping records

How to register your organisation for Gift Aid

You need to register with HMRC Charities before you can claim tax back on Gift Aid donations or other income.

You can do this online:

  1. Create Government Gateway account for your charity – this is very quick and simple to do.
  2. Once you have this the next step is to get recognition as a charity from HMRC – this is an online form that takes a little longer to complete (you can save it and come back later). HMRC then have to process you application and send you information in the post
  3. Once you have this information you will be able to activate your online charity account with HMRC and register for Gift Aid services


The Charity needs to keep a record showing who has given what, so that it can trace every donation to a donor who has given a valid declaration. Once a declaration has been made, it can be valid indefinitely, if appropriately worded. We suggest a register of donors should be kept, including:

  • Full name and address of donor
  • Date of Declaration
  • Amount paid
  • Date of receipt of payment

The charity may also like to keep track of how much tax is reclaimable, by multiplying the amount received to date by 20/80.

As with all record keeping, the organisation will need to make sure it meets the data protection requirements

Reclaim of tax by the charity

The Charity must ensure that a Gift Aid declaration has been received from all donors (except form claims under the GASDS). These declarations should be kept on file by the group and may be inspected by HMRC on demand. 

You are able to claim for Gift Aid through the Charities Online service. HMRC have some guidance on what you need to do to sign up for and use the service on its website. 

There are three ways to submit Gift Aid claims:

  1. Through Charities Online (in which case you’ll have to register as per section a above), with the spreadsheet provided by HMRC. You download this in a format which is compatible either with Microsoft Office 2010 or above (Excel) or with the equivalent programme from LibreOffice which is a free operating system you can download from the HMRC website. There is much detailed guidance on the HMRC website.
  2. Also through Charities Online, but with your own software – this is unlikely to be you, it is generally an approach applicable to large charities with significantly more than a 1,000 donors per tax year.
  3. There is still an option of submitting a paper form. A new paper repayment claim form, called a ChR1, will replace all existing R68 claim forms. If you choose this option, ChR1 forms are available to be ordered now from the HMRC Charities Helpline (0300 123 1073). The form is designed so that HMRC can automatically scan the information into the new system. Old R68 forms or photocopies of the ChR1 will not be accepted because the new system will not be able to scan the information.

However, you submit the claim, the total tax claimable = total donations listed x 20/80, or:

Total donations x (Basic rate of tax ÷ (100 - the Basic rate of tax))

Hence Gift Aid donations totalling £50 produce a tax refund for the charity of £12.50 (50 x 20/80) making the total received by the charity £62.50.

NB companies must include donations on their Corporation Tax return. Donations must be paid over to the charity gross, which means that the charity does not have to make a claim for donations from companies.

Time available to claim Gift Aid

The time available to make Gift Aid claims is four years. But you can only claim on donations made while you have been registered as a charity with HMRC. So if you register today you cannot claim for donations made before today.

Appendix - Example calculation of a qualifying membership subscription

This example shows a membership payment might be assessed for separation into a tuition fee and a membership subscription, the latter qualifying for Gift Aid:

Choir A pays its Music Director £1,500 per year. Its committee agrees that of this fee, £1,100 is attributed towards providing tuition to members. Payments due from members are currently £75 per year and 40 members produce a total income for the choir of £3,000. Of the 40 members, 30 have signed Gift Aid declaration forms and pay UK tax as required by the scheme.

  1. Of each member’s payment to the choir, £27.50 constitutes a fee for tuition services provided by the Music Director (i.e. £1,100 ÷ 40)
  2. Of each individual payment, £47.50 can be classed as a membership subscription which qualifies for tax relief under the Gift Aid scheme (i.e. £75 - £27.50)
  3. 30 qualifying membership subscriptions generate a total figure for Gift Aid consideration of £1,425 (i.e. £47.50 x 30)
  4. Tax relief is claimed at Total qualifying income x (Basic rate of tax ÷ (100 - Basic rate of tax)) i.e. in this example: £1,425 x 20/80 = £356.25

You will need to provide your members with the information set out above to enable them to claim the appropriate deductions for higher rate tax purposes in their own tax returns.


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.