The “Gift Aid” scheme in its present form was introduced in 2000, and can cover all donations made to a church or charity by a UK taxpayer - whether weekly, occasional, annual or one-off.
(It replaced the former Covenants scheme which was, until then, the only way in which churches could obtain a tax refund on the regular giving made in the Offertory collection - whether as cash, cheques or by Bank Standing Orders.)
The main point of the Gift Aid scheme is that the Church, as a charity, can reclaim, for its own benefit, the income tax that you have already paid* on the income out of which you make your donations to the Church. This makes every £5 you give worth £6.25.
( * or will be paying, if your tax is calculated annually)
The only requirements for Gift Aid Declarations are:-
(1) That the donor should be paying, or expecting to pay, Income Tax (or Capital Gains tax - rare for most of us) of at least the amount which will be reclaimed by the Church (and all other charities that the donor supports). This is still, for tax year 2018-19, 25p in the £ of what is given - "one quarter" for quick calculations. This does not require any “extra” payment and in most cases will not cause any difficulty. For example, somebody giving £5 per week will have to be paying tax of no less than £1.25 per week. (These figures relate to the amount of tax you have paid, not to the Basic Rate of 20% at which tax is charged on your income. We can explain why, but it would take too long here.)
(2) That the donor should make a Declaration that they are a taxpayer and that they are willing for their donations to be included in the Gift Aid scheme for the benefit of the parish. This Declaration can be written, which is the one available as a downloadable form from here, or oral/verbal, meaning it can be simply “said” to your priest or lay organiser, so long as they can make a record of what you say and send you a written confirmation of it.
NB: (1) The Gift Aid Declaration form has now been revised in the light of the General Data Protection Regulation in force from 25th May 2018. The Finance Office is now arranging to print and despatch pads of the new August 2018 edition. If you urgently need to have a new Declaration made before they arrive, you are welcome to download and print from here, but it MUST be printed double-sided so that all the back-page information is seen by the donor.
(2) if downloading and signing the Gift Aid form, please be sure to send it to your Parish or to the Finance office - do NOT send the Standing-Order section to your Bank, we will do that for you.
(You can also make a Gift Aid Declaration by telephone or e-mail. Copy-and-paste the text at the foot of this page into an e-mail, insert your name and address, the date and the name of the parish you wish to benefit, and send it to the Finance Office - email@example.com
(3) That the Church can identify, trace and record all Gift Aid donations. This is why most loose cash in the collection cannot be included in the Gift Aid scheme. You have to be using Offertory Envelopes, a Bank Standing Order, or a regular cheque. (From April 2013 there has been a limited facility for parishes to claim a Gift Aid-style grant based on some of their untraceable "loose cash". Briefings about this were sent to all parishes.)
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Taking part in the Gift Aid scheme does not cost you anything extra and does not have any effect on your own tax position - though if you do a Tax Return they expect you to give details of any Gift Aid declarations you have made, so it is advisable to keep your own record of this.
The Gift Aid scheme does not oblige you to state what you will be giving, nor to pay the same amount each week or month, though it is very helpful to the Parish if people will give in a regular and consistent way. You can make a Declaration even if you do not come to Mass.
If you are happy with all this, and if you have downloaded and printed the form (both sides), please read it carefully (there are more Notes on it), complete the Declaration (the part in the shaded box) and give the whole form to your priest or lay organiser. Do not forget to write in the name of your parish at the top !
You can e-mail the form to the Finance Office as a PDF attachment IF you have been able to fill in all the boxes on-screen, i.e. if you have a PDF Writer program. But do not make any alterations to the form, as it has been approved by the Revenue in its existing wording.
If you do wish to give by a Standing Order, complete the bottom part as well and send the whole paper form back to the parish - NOT to your Bank. (NB we suggest that the commencement date for a Standing order should be at least a month away, to allow time for the instruction to reach your Bank.) You should not attempt to complete the Standing Order section on-screen, as that requires an original signature on paper.
If you would like to be sent a box of Offertory Envelopes for use in your parish, write “Envelopes Please” somewhere on the form.
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Text for Gift Aid Declaration to be sent in an e-mail:
I, [ insert your full name ] of [ insert your full address including postcode ] wish the Diocese of Northampton (Charity No. 234091) to treat all donations I have made for the four years prior to the date below, and all donations I may make after this date, as Gift Aid donations so that tax may be recovered on them for the benefit of [ insert name and town of your parish, e.g. St Boniface's, Newtown ] . I understand that (a) I must be paying Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax of at least the amount which will be reclaimed by the Diocese and all other charities that I support under Gift Aid, (b) if I do not pay sufficient tax it is my responsibility to make up the difference, and (c) I may cancel this Declaration at any time.
Dated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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