The six-year period in which charities can reclaim Gift Aid is to be cut by two years. From 1 April 2010, according to HM Revenue and Customs, charities will be able to claim Gift Aid on only the past four years of donations by qualifying donors.
An HMRC spokesman told Third Sector magazine that the change was not targeted at charities but was "part of a review intended to create a single regime for all direct taxes."
The magazine quoted Gift Aid specialist Barry Gower of GAIN as saying "This is a wake-up call for charities. They need to check they have reclaimed all the Gift Aid they’re entitled to."
Unless charities can ensure that they have reclaimed all Gift Aid due to them within the next 12 months they could start to lose out on Gift Aid they would otherwise have received after the new regime begins in April next year.
The period from January to April 2010 will become crucial in this regard. The deadline for claims for donations in the year ended 5 April 2004 will be unchanged at 31 January 2010. But under the new system the new time limit for claims for donations in the year ended 5 April 2005 will be two months later on 31 March 2010.
Then claims for donations in the year ended 5 April 2006 will be required just one week later on 5 April 2010. In other words, the final deadlines for two separate years of Gift Aid reclaims fall within six days of each other!
The key dates for the new system are:
| Year of claim|| Old time limit|| New time limit|
|Year ended 5 April 2004||31 January 2010||31 January 2010|
|Year ended 5 April 2005||31 January 2011||31 March 2010|
|Year ended 5 April 2006||31 January 2012||5 April 2010|
|Year ended 5 April 2007||31 January 2013||5 April 2011|
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