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HMRC Charities Digital Service

By Kevin Russell | 8 April 2015

HMRC has launched a new online service, allowing charities to apply for recognition as a ‘tax charity’. Recognition as a charity by HMRC is entirely separate from registration with the Charity Commission, OSCR or CCNI and is required by law, if the charity is to benefit from tax reliefs such as Gift Aid.


Registration with the charity regulator

Any church or charity that is legally required to be registered with the Charity Commission, OSCR or CCNI must complete this registration before being eligible to register as a tax charity with HMRC.


Recognition as a tax charity

The new HMRC online service can be accessed from here:


The online service replaces paper form ChA1 although the paper form can, for the moment, still be accessed via the above link. Later in the year, HMRC also hope to bring form ChV1, which deals with variations to a charity’s tax record (for example, changes to the authorised officials), within the online service.


Getting online and seeking HMRC recognition

To use the online service, you must have an HMRC online account (also know as a Government Gateway account) and be registered as an organisation.


To start the online registration process, applicants will need:


  • the charity’s bank account details, and annual financial statements;
  • details, including dates of birth and National Insurance numbers, of key officials;
  • the charity’s registration number with the relevant charity regulator, if applicable;

(Note: Very small charities and some churches in England and Wales are not presently required by law to register. For more details, please refer to our Briefing Note 2015/1 ‘Why all churches should be registered as charities’ )

  • The charity’s Governing Document (usually, this will be either the Trust Deed, Memorandum and Articles of Association or CIO Constitution – the legal document that established the charity);
  • A note of the charitable objectives (sometimes called purposes) of the charity. These should be set out in the Governing Document.


Action point

All new charities and those that have not previously been recognised by HMRC as a tax charity should register now in order to ensure that they can benefit from the generous range of tax reliefs and other benefits available to charities.

Posted by Kevin Russell

Our Legal Eagle guru and Stewardship's Technical Director, Kevin constantly has his finger on the pulse of all things tax and charity law-related. His briefing papers for charities, churches and individuals are an invaluable resource on everything from VAT to Gift Aid. 


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