Accounting rules for charities

By Tolley in association with Speechly Bircham LLP

The following Trusts and Inheritance Tax guidance note by Tolley in association with Speechly Bircham LLP provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Accounting rules for charities
  • Introduction to the reporting requirements for charities
  • Reporting
  • Demonstrating public benefit
  • Preparing charity accounts
  • Accounts
  • External scrutiny of accounts
  • Scrutiny
  • Retention of accounting records

Introduction to the reporting requirements for charities

The specific reporting requirements of a charity are dependent on:

  • whether the charity is registered, and
  • the charity's income in each financial period

There are special requirements for ‘excepted’ or ‘exempt’ charities and registered charitable companies. For the detailed requirements see The Charities (Accounts and Reports) Regulations 2008 SI 2008/629 (subscription sensitive) and Charities Act 2011, s 144-146.

The required documents should be submitted to the Charity Commission online no later than ten months after the charity's financial year end.

Much of the information reported in a charity’s accounts and filed with the Charity Commission is accessible on the Commission’s public register of charities . Bank account details and the trustees' addresses, telephone numbers and dates of birth are not made available to the public.


Links to specimen forms can be found on the Charity Commission website .

Annual income £25,000 or less

Charities with income of under £5,000 are not generally required to register with the Charity Commission. The exception is CIOs, which are registered with the Commission regardless of annual income. There are no specific reporting requirements for trustees of unregistered charities.

The trustees of a registered charity mustprepare an annual report and accounts and make copies available to the public on request. The requirement to prepare accounts and an annual report also applies to trustees of charities with income under £5,000 who have registered voluntarily.

There is a legal obligation on the trustees of all registered charities to keep the charity’s details up to date on the Charity Commission's public register . Any changes to the charity’s details mustbe recorded in either an Annual Update form (for

More on Charities administration: