Update on GASDS while Church Buildings are closed
HMRC have issued the following statement about GASDS while church buildings are closed:
In respect of GASDS, guidance on the eligibility for donations for inclusion in this scheme is clear in stating that claims can only be made on cash donations of £30 or less; and contactless card donations of £30 or less collected on or after 6 April 2019. The decision over what constitutes an eligible donation is one for the church/charity to make for themselves, rather than for HMRC, but the conditions for something to be considered a ‘small donation’ are clearly set out in legislation. Where it is the case, for example, of separate donations being given in a single envelope, then if the church/charity official is happy these are clearly separate ‘small donations’ (and clearly stated as such) then they will be eligible for GASDS, as is the case where separate envelopes are used”.
Churches could also help to make it easier to distinguish such gifts by providing separate collecting plates/donation receptacles reserved for saved-up donations when the lockdown restrictions are eased.
The Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) allows parishes to claim a Gift-Aid style repayment to be received on small cash and contactless donations of up to and including £30 to a threshold of £8,000 of donated income per tax year per church. (The £8,000 threshold applies from the 2016/17 tax year – the limit for prior years was £5,000)
In total, it should benefit parishes by more than £15 million a year. The guidance on this page offers practical guidance for Church of England parishes – it does not provide complete guidance to the scheme. There are two different elements to the scheme:
If you are a PCC with a single church,
then you should now use the Top Up element of the scheme – use the guidance for single church parishes (You should also use the Top Up element if you have more than one church building in the parish, but your eligible donations in total are not more than the £8,000 limit)
If your PCC has more than one church,
then you should continue to use the Community Buildings element of the scheme and use our guidance for multi church parishes. If you have a church plant, or run services in other buildings, there is an additional guide to GASDS and Church Plants.
Whichever guidance you are following the core of the scheme is pretty simple to operate, and we’d encourage parishes to keep it that way. Don’t try and do anything different to change how much qualifies – for many parishes, loose plate collections and regular giving envelopes on which there is no Gift Aid declaration will form the basis of your claim.
GASDS is claimed alongside Gift Aid using the same processes. These changed in 2013, and we have a page of specific guidance on each of the three possible routes to claim here.
The Church in Wales have asked us to include a note for their parishes: “The Church in Wales strongly endorses the current approach of the Church of England with regard to GASDS. This relates both to the guidance it has produced and in its ongoing discussions with HMRC about the scheme. It encourages it’s members who access this site to read the available guidance.”
What you need to do now:
You need to make sure you’re keeping the right records. HMRC require you to keep three elements of evidence, all of which you should already have in place:
1. To be eligible, Small Donations must be banked at bank or post office branch in the UK. You must keep evidence to show that you have deposited at least the amount claimed under GASDS. So, for example, if after a service you have £250 which is eligible for the small donations scheme, the amount banked must be at least that. In practice, because of cash in Gift-Aided planned giving envelopes it will be higher than that – this is fine. It doesn’t need banking separately.
2. You will also need records showing when the cash was collected. For most parishes, this will be in two parts, as outlined in our guidance.
a) Vestry forms showing the cash collected at services, which provides evidence of the donations that are eligible. These should be signed. You can use your own forms, as long as they separate out loose cash from that given in envelopes, and can exclude donations where you know than an individual gave more than £30.
and b) The envelope register, which will identify regular planned giving in envelopes not covered by a Gift Aid declaration. These can also be included in the scheme provided the donation given in a particular week is in cash and is of £30 or less.
3. In order to claim under the Community Buildings element of the scheme (which parishes with more than one church are likely to need to do) on donations received prior to April 6th 2017, you will need evidence to show that collections were taken at services or other charitable activities when there were more than 10 people attending. This will usually be your service register.