Setting up and running a charity – guidance

Claim tax back on donations using Charities Online

Find out how to submit a claim for tax repayments using online forms and databases.

Your charity, community amateur sports club (CASC), nominee, collection agency or authorised agent can use Charities Online to claim tax repayments for:

A nominee is an individual or an organisation who you authorise to submit Gift Aid or other tax repayment claims on your behalf.

A collection agency receives donations to your charity and Gift Aid declarations via their website. The agency will claim Gift Aid that it receives for your charity on eligible donations on your behalf.

An authorised agent is someone who acts on your behalf, eg, your accountant, tax agent or adviser.

Register for Charities Online

To make a claim using Charities Online, you’ll need to log in to your HMRC Online Services account using your user ID and password.

If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to register online.

To register for an HMRC Online Services account you’ll need to:

  1. Go to HMRC’s Online Services home page and select ‘register’.
  2. Select ‘sign up for HMRC Online Services’.
  3. Select ‘organisation’, which takes you to the ‘new user’ page.
  4. Select ‘charities’ and go to the next page.

You’ll then need to enter your charity’s or CASC’s:

  • postcode
  • HMRC reference (up to 5 numbers, starts with 1 or 2 letters)
  • customer account number (add a zero to the start if it’s 9 digits) or the last 4 digits of your bank account number if HMRC recognised you as a charity or CASC before April 2013

Once you’ve accepted the terms and conditions and entered your name and email address, you’ll need to create a password. Your password must be between 8 and 12 characters (letters and numbers) and can’t contain the word ‘password’.

You’ll then be presented on screen with a unique, 12-digit user ID number and you’ll also be asked to enter your charity’s details.

Make a note of both your user ID number and your password and keep them safe. You’ll need them to access HMRC Online Services.

Activate your Charities Online account

After you’ve registered, Government Gateway will post you a Charities Online activation code, which takes around a week to arrive. You must use this code within 28 days.

Log in to HMRC Online Services using your user ID and password, and you’ll see ‘Charities’ listed as one of the ‘services you can use’. You’ll then need to:

  1. Select ‘activate service’.
  2. Enter your Charities Online activation code.
  3. Select ‘activate’.

If you’ve logged in to use HMRC Online Services in the past, the date and time that you last logged on will be shown.

If the date and time shown is incorrect, report this to HMRC immediately by selecting ‘online security’ and following the steps provided.

Make a claim

To access Charities Online and start making a claim for repayment, sign in to your Charities Online account and go to the page called ‘Services you can use’.

From there, select ‘access service’ (next to ‘Charities’), then ‘make a charity repayment claim’ where you’ll be asked questions about the type of claim you’re making.

When you’ve filled in details of your claim, you’ll be asked for more information about your charity or CASC on a page titled ‘About the organisation’.

On the ‘About the organisation’ page, only charities that are managed by a trust company, a trust corporation or a trust department of a bank, should answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘Are you a corporate trustee?’

You’ll then be asked to fill in the ‘repayment claim details’ page. This is where you can tell HMRC about donations to your charity or CASC that you can reclaim tax on. You can send these details in a document called a schedule spreadsheet.

Use a schedule spreadsheet to tell HMRC about donations for:

Note that you can only claim using the GASDS for donations collected after 2013.

When you’ve filled in the appropriate schedule spreadsheet, you’ll need to save it on your computer.

You’ll need to attach it to the Charities Online form by selecting ‘browse’ or ‘choose file’.

You may also file your claims electronically using your own Gift Aid database if it’s suitable for making online claims.

You don’t have to use the same method every time.

If you log out or you’re timed out during the claim process, your details will be saved. When you log in again, you’ll be asked if you want to continue.

If you do, you’ll be taken to the stage you reached earlier. To delete a claim, select ‘continue with charity repayment claim’ and then ‘delete’.

You’ve completed your repayment claim when each stage of the claim process shows a green tick on the ‘repayment claim summary’ page. At this point, you can select ‘next’ and go to the ‘declaration page’ to finalise your claim.

Submit your claim

When you submit a claim, you’ll get an on-screen confirmation with the date and time it was sent. You’ll also see a reference number. Make a note of it. You can use it if you need to contact HMRC about the claim but it’s not a confirmation of payment.

Make a top-up claim for Gift Aid or a small donation

With a Charities Online account, you can submit a Gift Aid or small donation top-up claim using an online form.

You can claim on up to 1,000 Gift Aid donations at a time by completing and attaching an HMRC schedule spreadsheet to the online claim form. The spreadsheet should contain details of your donations. You can only complete one online form at a time, which you must submit before making a new claim.

You can save unfinished claims and return to them at any time within 30 days.

You can include donations raised by a participant in a sponsored event under a single entry, using the participant’s name and home address. Donations must be less than £500. This means you won’t need to list every individual donor who sponsored the person.

If any individual donation is more than £500, you or the person acting on your behalf must show this as a separate Gift Aid donation with the donor’s name and address.

Aggregated donations

Charities Online gives you the option to add together small donations of £20 or less, up to a total of £1,000 per entry. This means you don’t have to provide details for individual donations (although you can do if you prefer).

You’ll still need to keep details of all donations for your own records in case HMRC needs to check your claim.

Using your own database

If you regularly make claims on donations made by more than 1,000 Gift Aid donors, you could purchase your own Gift Aid database. Your claim will be processed quicker.

There’s no limit to the number of claims you can submit. For example, if your annual claim contains 6,000 donations, you can submit 6 claims online with up to 1,000 donations on each claim form.

You can also make a claim for a top-up on small donations through your own database. You’ll be able to send a maximum of one claim per day directly from your database. The maximum number of Gift Aid donors that can be included in a file created by a Gift Aid database is 500,000.

To claim through your own database, you’ll need to develop your own compatible software or buy compatible software from a provider. HMRC has published a list of compatible commercial software.

You can claim using more than one method at the same time. Eg you could use Gift Aid software to claim tax on donations and use HMRC’s schedule spreadsheets for claiming tax deducted from other income that you’ve received.

Agents, nominees and collection agents

Charities Online allows agents, nominees and collection agents to make repayment claims on your behalf.

They can file your Gift Aid, GASDS or ‘other income’ repayment claims electronically using HMRC’s schedule spreadsheets or their own software.

Agents, nominees and collection agents can only claim for your charity or CASC if you’ve informed HMRC that they’re authorised to represent you.

You’ll need to tell HMRC that an individual or organisation is authorised to make a claim on your behalf by completing form ChV1. Save the application form (ChV1) on your computer and complete it on screen. Include the agent’s details in the ‘Changes to the nominee and collection agency details’ section. Then print it, sign it and send it to the address on the form.

Registration for agents, nominees or collection agents

Agents, nominees and collection agents must sign up for HMRC Online Services before registering for the Charities Online.

They’ll need to log in to Online Services and add ‘Charities for Agents’ to their portfolio from the ‘Services you can add’ section of ‘Your HMRC services’, then:

  1. Go to the HMRC homepage and select ‘Register (new users)’ under the ‘Do it online’ section.
  2. Follow the link to ‘Sign up for HMRC Online Services’ in the section ‘Sign up to send returns using HMRC Online Services’.
  3. Select the ‘Agent’ option and follow the on-screen instructions.

HMRC will acknowledge this authorisation and send your agent, nominee or collection agent a unique agent reference number and a customer account reference number. To enrol they’ll need to use these 2 reference numbers and their postcode.

HMRC will send the reference numbers when you’ve told them that you have authorised an agent, nominee or collection agent to make claims on your behalf.

HMRC will post an activation code to your agent, nominee or collection agent within 7 days. They must activate the service within 28 days of the date on the letter.

The agent will need to submit an online claim within 30 days of starting it. If they don’t make your claim within this time, any information on the partially saved claim will be deleted, and they’ll need to start again.

Receiving payment

Claims made via Charities Online are normally paid within 20 working days of HMRC receiving the claim. HMRC will send you a written confirmation that a payment has made into your bank account.