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Regulations applying to Northern Ireland charities

New regulations applying to Northern Ireland charities have come into force.

These regulations revoke the saving provisions that applied different audit thresholds for charitable companies in Northern Ireland. This means that Northern Ireland charitable companies with a financial year beginning on or after 1 January 2016 may claim audit exemption as long as they meet the same criteria as other UK companies.

The current audit thresholds for a small company are:

  • annual turnover must not be more than £10.2 million
  • the balance sheet total of not more than £5.1 million
  • the average number of employee must be not more than 50

This replaces the previous thresholds for Northern Ireland charitable companies for financial years beginning on or after 1 January 2016. For financial years beginning prior to this date the thresholds to claim audit exemption for a small Northern Ireland charitable company remain:

  • gross income must not be more than £90,000, and
  • its balance sheet total for that year must not be more than £2.8 million.

Alternatively, for financial years beginning prior to 1 January 2016, a charity may be partially exempt from the requirement for an audit if there is a suitable accountants report to the accounts and the company meets both the following conditions in respect of a financial year:

  • gross income must be more than £90,000 and not more than £250,000
  • its balance sheet total for that year must not be more than £1.4 million

Balance sheet exemption statements

The statements that a Northern Ireland Charity should show on its balance sheet in order to claim audit exemption for a financial year beginning on or after 1 January 2016 are the same as for any UK small company. Further information can be found in our online guidance: GP2 – Life of a company Part 1: Annual Requirements.

Northern Ireland Charities that want to claim audit exemption for financial years prior to 1 January 2016 must continue to show the following statements on their balance sheet above the director’s signature: For the year ended (insert date), the company was entitled to exemption under Article 257A(1) (or Article 257A(2) in the case of partial exemption) of the Companies (Northern Ireland) Order 1986. No members have required the company to obtain an audit of its accounts for the year in question in accordance with Article 257B(2).

The directors acknowledge their responsibilities for complying with the requirements of the Companies Act 2006 with respect to accounting records and the preparation of accounts.

Small company/abbreviated accounts must also make the following statement on the balance sheet above the director’s signature:

These accounts have been prepared in accordance with the provisions applicable to companies subject to the small companies’ regime.