Things Have Changed For Charities Filing Returns – All You Need To...

If you’re a charity in the UK, then filing your annual tax return just got a little different. From 31st July 2023, the government’s charity commission regulator has announced that the new My Charity Commission Account service is live. The vast majority of charities have been contacted directly on this development. The new charity digital service has been described as charities’ ‘front door’ into the Commission.

The new digital service provides the capacity to submit any remaining annual returns for 2022 and all annual returns for 2023 onwards, whilst engaging with the regulator’s wider digital services. It also means that charities will no longer be able to file annual returns through the previous system. From 31st July, all online services will be accessible with a My Charity Commission Account log-in.

We explain the new process for charities and what this will entail, as well as how we can help with any concerns or issues around the new service…

What Is The New My Charity Commission Digital Service?

Simply put the new My Charity Commission digital service is designed to make it easier and more accessible for charities to file and submit their annual returns. In 2016, the Charity Commission released a blog about why they’re aiming to go more digital. The reasoning behind the digital transformation lay in the fact going digital would help charities self-serve issues quicker, more trustees will be reached with key information, information would become public, as well as the Charity Commission concentrating on more complicated, pressing matters.

Fast forward a few prime ministers later, a global pandemic, and subsequent economic turmoil, and the My Charity Commission digital service has finally come to fruition. It represents a significant change for charities across the UK. The regulator is preparing for any disruption that trustees may experience during the transition. This includes making additional staff available in its Contact Centre.

The roll-out of the new service has begun with charities’ named contacts, ensuring that all charities are able to access the Commission’s digital services. This includes filing their annual returns.

What Happens About Any Returns On The Old System?

It’s worth noting charities that are part-way through filing their 2022 Annual Return in the current system have been advised directly that they have until the 28th July to complete the process. Those who haven’t submitted their annual return by the end of July will need to start again via My Charity Commission Account after the changeover.

The Annual Return for 2023 returns will be launched in late August via the My Charity Commission Account. In the months ahead, the service will be extended to all individual trustees. This will facilitate a more direct relationship between the regulator and trustees, helping to ensure they are supported in their role and equipped to run their charities well.

Nick Baker, the Commission’s Chief Operating Officer stated, “There is a lot of work still for us to do before we meet our long-term ambition for a new, direct form of online communication between the Commission and each and every charity trustee. But the end of this month marks an important milestone in the development of My Charity Commission Account, enabling charities to access the new service for the first time. I call on all charities to act quickly when they receive an onboarding invitation from the Commission.”

What We Have To Say About It

At Nordens, we understand the complexities involved when government entities decide to significantly change things without any real prior warning. This can be daunting, and you’re often left worrying about what to do and when to do it. Fortunately, we deal with lots of charities and not-for-profits, especially in regards to filing and submitting annual returns, so we can take care of this for you.

Lorraine Curtis, Nordens’ Director of Audit, believes, “This is a positive change for charities for the future, with the move to a more automated service which improves efficiencies and time required. When running a charity or not-for-profit organisation, we personally realise that you don’t want to be weighed down by financial issues. Instead, you’d rather be concentrating on how you can put the money to good use to drive meaningful change in the world as a not-for-profit. This is where we come into play, taking the weight off your hands so please get in touch and we can discuss the assistance required.” 

We hope this has outlined to you the new digital service for charities launched by the Charity Commission, and why filing annual returns has changed. If you’d like to know any further information, or anything accounting related, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us at Nordens, where one of our trusted advisors would be happy to talk you through your query.