19 January 2015
The Charity Commission is urging charities with a 31 January deadline for accounts and annual returns to file on time and file online.
Charities have ten months from the end of their financial year to submit their annual documents. Around 54,000 charities have a financial year end of 31 March, meaning their accounts and annual returns are due at the end of this month.
The commission is urging charities not to send in hard copy accounts, instead to file online. This is the quickest and easiest way to submit accounts and it enables a charity’s profile to be updated overnight. The 20-minute process is set out in a video tutorial produced by the commission in easy to follow steps. The regulator also has guidance available on its website.
In addition, charities can now authorise their accountant or other adviser to submit accounts on the trustees’ behalf.
Failure to submit annual documents when required to the commission is a criminal offence and the regulator says that it amounts to mismanagement and/or misconduct in the administration of a charity and is often linked with poor governance issues.
Charities who fail to file their annual documents for two or more years face a statutory inquiry by the commission. There is an ongoing class inquiry (see endnote 1) into charities that are in default of their statutory obligations to meet reporting requirements.
Neville Brownlee, Chief Operating Officer at the commission said: 'There is no excuse for charities to be late when they have 10 months to prepare and are reminded at regular intervals by us. It’s a good idea to file when you’re ready, rather than leave it until the last minute.
'It’s also a criminal offence not to file on time and late submissions will raise serious concerns with us. Trustees should be making absolutely sure that their organisation is remaining accountable to the public.'