The Charity Commission is today reminding charities with a financial year ending 31 December that they have less than 2 weeks to file their annual return or accounts for 2015 before the 31 October deadline.
As of close of play on Friday 14 October, 1,579 charities with a last reported income over £250,000 and a financial year ending 31 December 2015 hadn’t yet filed their accounts or annual return and need to do by 31 October. A total of 9,114 charities on the register are in default and are not complying with their legal filing obligations.
Once a charity has submitted its documents to us, they are published on our register of charities and are readily available for all members of the public to view. Filing your accounts and annual report is a great opportunity to tell your story and demonstrate to your generous supporters the impact your charity has had over the past year, as well as your plans for the upcoming year.
Trustees have a legal obligation to submit these documents and the failure to file may be an indicator of wider poor governance issues within the charity. Failing to file, or filing late, can affect your charity’s reputation as well as jeopardise public trust in charities more generally. The Commission takes failure to file very seriously and will take action where necessary.
Use these top tips from the Commission to avoid making mistakes and falling into default with your accounting and reporting requirements:
- Know what you need to submit and when. You have 10 months from the end of their financial year to do this and what you need to submit depends on your annual income:
- under £10,000 – income and expenditure figures via the annual return/update
- £10,001 – £25,000 – annual return form
- £25,001 and over – annual return, accounts, independent examiners report/audit and TAR
- all CIOs – annual return, accounts, (independent examiners report/audit and TAR for incomes over £25,000)
- Do not wait until you approach the 10 month deadline; when you have the documents, submit them.
- The easiest and quickest way to file your annual information is using the online services. This also means your charity’s profile will be updated overnight. There is a video tutorial that shows you how to do this on GOV.UK and we offer technical support via a telephone helpline which is open from 9am to midday Monday to Friday on 0300 066 9197. You can also request a callback via GOV.UK.
- Remember that submission of this information is the collective responsibility of the entire trustee body, not just the treasurer or secretary.
- You need a password to access the annual return and other online services. All trustees must ensure they know who has the password and that it is handed over if that person leaves, otherwise it can be a time-consuming process to acquire a new one.
- Ensure your charity’s trustee details are up-to-date before you enter the annual return 2016.
- Income and expenditure figures must be recorded in whole pounds – not thousands of pounds, and no decimal points.
- The annual return prompts you to tell us if your accounts are ‘qualified’. Many people tick this box without reading what it means. Accounts are marked ‘qualified’ when the independent examiner or auditor has doubts or concerns about some aspects of the accounts. This does not relate to the fitness of the individual scrutinising the accounts.
- The annual return prompts you to declare if you have a serious incident to report; this can only be done by the trustees. If the trustees are unsure whether to report a serious incident, or they only have a suspicion that something serious has occurred, they should still report it.
- If you have all the information you need, completing your annual return should only take about 20 minutes – so go online, and file on time.
The public can quickly and easily find information about whether a charity has met its legal reporting duties by checking on the register of charities.