The Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) allows parishes to claim a Gift-Aid style repayment to be received on small cash donations of £20 or less up to a threshold of £8,000 of donated income per tax year per church. (The £8,000 threshold applies from the 2016/17 tax year – the limit for prior years was £5,000)
In total, it should benefit parishes by more than £15 million a year. The guidance on this page offers practical guidance for Church of England parishes – it does not provide complete guidance to the scheme. HMRC now accept that PCCs are not ‘connected charities’ and so there are two different routes:
If you are a PCC with a single church,
then you should now use the Top Up element of the scheme – use the guidance for single church parishes (You should also use the Top Up element if you have more than one church building in the parish, but your eligible donations in total are not more than the £8,000 limit)
If your PCC has more than one church,
then you should continue to use the Community Buildings element of the scheme and use our guidance for multi church parishes. If you have a church plant, or run services in other buildings, there is an additional guide to GASDS and Church Plants.
Whichever guidance you are following the core of the scheme is pretty simple to operate, and we’d encourage parishes to keep it that way. Don’t try and do anything different to change how much qualifies – for many parishes, loose plate collections and regular giving envelopes on which there is no Gift Aid declaration will form the basis of your claim.
GASDS is claimed alongside Gift Aid using the same processes. These changed in 2013, and we have a page of specific guidance on each of the three possible routes to claim here.
The Church in Wales have asked us to include a note for their parishes: “The Church in Wales strongly endorses the current approach of the Church of England with regard to GASDS. This relates both to the guidance it has produced and in its ongoing discussions with HMRC about the scheme. It encourages it’s members who access this site to read the available guidance.”
What you need to do now:
You need to make sure you’re keeping the right records. HMRC require you to keep three elements of evidence, all of which you should already have in place:
1. To be eligible, Small Donations must be banked at bank or post office branch in the UK. You must keep evidence to show that you have deposited at least the amount claimed under GASDS. So, for example, if after a service you have £250 which is eligible for the small donations scheme, the amount banked must be at least that. In practice, because of cash in Gift-Aided planned giving envelopes it will be higher than that – this is fine. It doesn’t need banking separately.
2. You will also need records showing when the cash was collected. For most parishes, this will be in two parts, as outlined in our guidance.
a) Vestry forms showing the cash collected at services, which provides evidence of the donations that are eligible. These should be signed. You can use your own forms, as long as they separate out loose cash from that given in envelopes, and can exclude donations where you know than an individual gave more than £20.
- An example form is available in both Word format and Excel format
- You can download our Vestry Record notes to accompany this. Please note: the numbers along the top of the Word / Excel example form (1, 2, 3, 4) correlates with the numbers on the Vestry Record Forms Guidance document.
and b) The envelope register, which will identify regular planned giving in envelopes not covered by a Gift Aid declaration. These can also be included in the scheme provided the donation given in a particular week is in cash and is of £20 or less.
3. In order to claim under the Community Buildings element of the scheme (which parishes with more than one church are likely to need to do), you will need evidence to show that collections were taken at services or other charitable activities when there were more than 10 people attending. This will usually be your service register.