Although the Charities Act 2011 provides for the voluntary registration of such charities until now, the Commission has refused to accept such applications on the grounds of a lack of resources. Recently, however, the Commission has announced (with no fanfare and hidden in the middle of other advice) that charities with an annual income of less than £5,000 can now voluntarily apply to them to register but that the Commission will only consider such applications in exceptional circumstances. The example the Commission gives is if you can prove that your charity has been offered significant funds but has to provide a registered charity number before it can receive the funds.

It is unclear if the Commission will allow excepted charities to voluntarily apply to be registered. Excepted charities do not have to register with the Commission if their income is below a particular threshold (currently £100,000 a year). These ‘excepted charities’ include:

  • churches and chapels of some Christian denominations (and funds connected with them);
  • charitable funds of the armed forces; and
  • Scout and Guide groups

However, in the report published by the Joint Committee of Lords and Commons on the draft Protection of Charities Bill at the end of February 2015, it was proposed that excepted (and exempted) status be brought to an end. At present excepted status is due to end in 2021. It will be interesting to see if this recommendation is picked up and whether the Commission, with its limited resources, could cope with the increase in registrations. 

Do not forget that even if your charity cannot register with the Commission you can still apply to HM Revenue and Customs for recognition as a charity to get charity tax breaks and claim gift aid tax refunds.

For more information

Contact Edwina Turner

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