Annual Return for charities: 2017 return and consultation on 2018 return questions launched

All but the smallest of charities (those with income of less than £10,000) must submit an Annual Return to the Charity Commission within ten months of the end of their financial year.

Charities with an income of less than £10,000 are not obliged to submit an Annual Return, but must provide details of their income and expenditure figures, and the Charity Commission suggests that the easiest way to do this is through the Annual Return service.

Charities with an income of more than £25,000 must submit a set of annual accounts as well as an independent examiner’s or audit report, and a trustees’ annual report, with their annual return.

All Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) must submit an annual return and annual accounts, and if a CIO has an income of more than £25,000, it must also submit an independent examiner’s or audit report, and a trustees’ annual report, with its annual return.

2017 Annual Return:

The Commission launched a new online service for the 2017 Annual Return at the end of August. This included no significant changes to the questions asked.

There is guidance produced by the Commission to assist trustees using the 2017 service. The Commission believes demand for the service will be high, and advises using it outside the peak hours of 10am-3pm.

Consultation on 2018 Annual Return:

The Commission has also issued a consultation on changes to the questions contained in the 2018 Annual Return. The Commission’s aim is for the new Annual Return to be better targeted and easier for charities to use.

As part of the Commission’s new online services, when charity trustees complete the 2018 Annual Return for their charity, if they have kept their charity’s details up-to-date using the new “Update Charity Details” service during the year, they should be asked to confirm certain information remains correct rather than having to re-enter the same information again.

The new service will make it possible for the Commission to tailor the questions that charities must answer depending on the size and type of charity. The aim is for smaller charities to answer fewer questions, and larger, more complex charities to answer more questions.

However, the consultation also proposes the removal of some questions and the addition of others. In particular, it proposes a new section on executive pay, and the inclusion of a requirement, as suggested by the Home Secretary Amber Rudd, that charities should provide details of the amount and source of any funding from overseas.

The consultation closes at 5pm on 24 November 2017.

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