How to avoid errors when claiming tax reliefs

June 22, 2015 at 10:10

Nearly 70,000 charities claim tax reliefs worth billions every year. However common errors not only create problems for charities, but increase the costs for HMRC, creating delays and diverting funding that could go towards promoting the tax reliefs towards helping people to fill out their claim forms.

Last year, HMRC provided a helpful ‘Top Tips’ sheet which charities can use to make the claiming process smoother. However, here is a quick overview of some of the top errors and some tips for avoiding them.

Common errors when claiming

1. Duplicating the amounts of Gift Aid and Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme

When using Charities Online spreadsheets, some charities erroneously say that they have both Gift Aid and Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme claims to make, in reality, they are only claiming for one of those. However, as the system asks that you provide information in both spreadsheets, charities often duplicate the amounts in order to get through the process.

This leads to claims being rejected, causing delays for the charity in receiving their Gift Aid payments and creating additional work for HMRC in processing the claims.

2. Using the full donation rather than tax amount when adjusting for overpayments

Occasionally, charities overclaim for Gift Aid due to error and then have to make a tax adjustment the next time they claim Gift Aid. However, instead of inputting the amount of tax that has been overclaimed, charities put the full donation amount.

As Gift Aid is only paid on the tax of the donor, charities only need to input the tax overclaimed, rather than the full donation amount. Not only can this lead to charities losing Gift Aid that they are entitled to, but it can also create delays for HMRC in processing claims.

3. Not having the correct details on forms

It is an obvious point, but many charities have the wrong details on their forms (or details which are not the same as those held by HMRC). This is includes things such as authorised officials, bank details, the address of the charity.

Without the correct details, charities claims cannot be processed and this adds delays to charities receiving their tax payments.

4. Errors on paper ChR1 forms:

There are a number of errors that crept into charities’ claims when they use the ChR1 forms such as:

–       Hyphen in the telephone numbers

–       Not completing the schedules in full

–       Not completing the regulators box or completely it incorrectly

–       Sending in additional letters with the ChR1

–       Using tipex on the forms

–       Crossing out mistakes, not writing the correct info underneath

–       Crossing through boxes not used

As these forms are scanned, computers can reject these claims creating additional delays and meaning that charities have to wait longer before they receive their tax repayments.

How to avoid errors

Here are a few things that you can do in order to make your claiming process as soon as possible:

  1. Make sure your detail are always up to date by completing the ChV1 form
  2. Don’t duplicate amounts, only select the schedules you need (Gift Aid or Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme)
  3. If you have an overpayment and are making a tax adjustment on your claim put in the tax amount and not the full donation
  4. Double check your paper forms to ensure that you haven’t made any of the common mistakes outlined above
  5. Contact the HMRC Charities Team (0300 123 1073) or send them an query if you have any questions before you send off your form.

If you have tips for how to improve Gift Aid claiming as a charity, please email the CFG Policy Team (policy@cfg.org.uk) and we’ll make sure to add it to the list.

Happy claiming!