Many charities benefitted from filing extensions granted by the Charity Commission and Companies House as a result of the effects of Covid-19. The regulators recognised that meeting the normal filing deadlines while dealing with the impact of the pandemic could be very challenging for churches and charities. They responded by giving extensions: the Charity Commission gave indefinite extensions on application, while Companies House gave automatic 3-month extensions at first, and now allow 3-month extensions upon application.
As things return to normality, trustees should note that the Charity Commission and Companies House have both started to return to normal expectations for charities’ filing deadlines as well.
- Companies House now only allows time-limited extensions upon specific application. Charitable companies should check their filing deadlines on the Companies House online service to avoid late filing penalties.
- The Charity Commission have also revisited their approach to filing extensions, effectively putting a time-limit on the previously open-ended extensions. They should have contacted all charities who are currently benefitting from open-ended filing extensions by the end of June 2021, and those charities will now have to meet their filing requirements by 30 September 2021. Charities finding it difficult to file on time between 1 July and 30 September 2021 due to Covid-19 can apply for a 3-month extension (from the date of application, not the original filing deadline) by emailing [email protected]. It is also important to realise that extensions are limited to a particular year-end only: for example, if a charity received an extension for 31 December 2019 accounts, the 31 December 2020 will still be due at the Charity Commission by 31 October 2021 – unless a specific, separate extension has also been granted for those accounts. The effect of an extension is not cumulative for future accounts.
As a reminder, charities need to provide information about themselves to the Charity Commission in an annual return every year, by 10 months after their year-end. Charitable companies and unincorporated charities (such as trusts) must provide:
- information on income and spending only if income is under £10,000,
- answers to further questions about the charity if income is between £10,000 and £25,000 (no further documents have to be provided), and
- in addition to the above, copies of a trustees’ annual report, accounts and an independent examination or audit report as applicable, if their income is more than £25,000.
(Of course, all charities, whether required to file accounts with the Commission or not, are required to keep accounting records and to make their formal accounts available to any member of the public who requests them – regardless of their size.)
Charities structured as a CIO must always answer questions about their charity in an annual return, and provide a trustees’ annual report and accounts. If their income is above £25,000, they also need to file an independent examination or audit report. More information is available here: Prepare a charity annual return - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
For more help or information on any of this, please contact our Accounts Examination Service team.