There has been a significant delay in the implementation of the Charities Act 2009, which is mainly due to the cost involved in the execution of the legislation required. However, the consultation process is now complete and the implementation of the Charities Act will take place over a phased period. The initial focus has been the establishment of the Charities Regulatory Authority (CRA), which was completed on 16th October 2014, with one of the first tasks being the establishment of a statutory Register of Charities.
The Register of Charities
All charities in Ireland will be required to register with the CRA. Such registrations will provide the CRA with the relevant information to produce a meaningful Register of Charities. Once all registrations have been completed the Register will then provide the general public with the following information on charities:
- The name of the charitable organisation
- The principal place of business, along with other locations and premises in Ireland
- Any other names, abbreviations, etc of the charity
- The charity number, CHY number and CRO number, if applicable
- The governing form, along with details of whether the charity is an educational body or not
- Details of the country where the charity was established and other countries in which the charity is operational
- The purpose, objectives, activities and beneficiaries of the charitable organisation
- The reporting period applicable to the charity
- The average number of employees and the number of Volunteers in the reporting period
- The gross income and total expenditure in the reporting period, as supplied by the charity
- The names of charity trustees, officers and directors
- Whether the charity is operating in Northern Ireland, along with the registration number from Northern Ireland, if applicable
Registering your charity with the CRA
All existing charities in Ireland must register with the CRA before 16th April 2015. A charity is defined as:
- a charitable trust;
- a body corporate which promotes a charitable purpose only and must, according to its own constitution or rules, use all of its property to advance that purpose;
- an unincorporated body of persons which promotes a charitable purpose and must, according to its own constitution or rules, use all of its property to advance that purpose;
- a body which intends to operate or carry on charitable activities in the State
The CRA have announced on their website that they are not yet accepting applications from charities that are educational bodies. However, that they will issue further information on such bodies in the near future.
Registering your Online Account with the CRA
In order to register your charity with the CRA you will be required to apply for an online account, which can be completed through the CRA’s website. Once you complete the initial application the CRA will issue you with a letter containing security information which will be required to create your account. Once your account is established, your charity will be required to provide the CRA with the following details:
- Charity Details – Name, other names known by, Governing form, etc.
- Charitable Purpose – Your charitable purpose must be consistent with your governing document as your charity will be required to report annually to the CRA on such charitable purposes.
- Activities – Details of how your activities directly support your objectives and how you are providing a public benefit; along with details of your charity’s beneficiaries, average number of employees, number of volunteers and the relevant codes to which your charity has signed up to.
- Addresses– Principal address, Correspondence address and all operational addresses;
- Places where you operate outside Ireland– Name and country;
- Fundraising– How you plan to raise money;
- Trustees/Officers/Directors – Details of all officers must be provided;
- Parent or Subsidiary organisations– Name and type;
- Financial– Balance Sheet date, Gross income and sources, total expenditure, along with details of expenditure on salaries;
- Bank accounts– Details of all bank accounts held;
- Further information – This will include the risk assessment procedures, safety checks and safeguards employed by the charitable organisation where its activities include working with vulnerable people (including the aged, children and young people, the sick, disabled and handicapped); along with any further information which may be relevant to your application.
- Documents– Your application for registration must also be accompanied by copies of the following:
- All financial accounts for your charitable organisation or relating to the charitable trust for the 12 months immediately preceding the application or, if your charitable organisation was formed or the charitable trust was established in the last 12 month, all financial accounts for the period since the organisation’s formation or the trust’s establishment, as may be appropriate;
- A copy of the governing document or constitution of the charitable organisation. Where there is no constitution for the charitable organisation, then documents of the charitable organisation covering such matters normally provided for in a constitution would be required to be provided.
- Declaration – Under S39|(3) & (15) Your application for registration must be accompanied by a signed declaration by trustees.
Charities with CHY Charity Tax Exemption
If your charity already has a CHY Charity Tax Exemption number from the Revenue Commissioners, you will automatically be registered with the CRA as your details will have been provided to the CRA by the Revenue Commissioners. While such charities are not required to complete the registration process they are still required to create an online account to facilitate the submission of the relevant information, as outlined above, to the CRA.
The implementation of the Charities Act 2009 will have a significant impact on the charities sector in Ireland and in particular on the smaller less organised charities. As an independent agency of the Department of Justice and Equality the CRA has been tasked with a number of responsibilities. However, as outlined above, their first task is the establishment of a statutory Register of Charities which will provide the CRA with an understanding of the actual number and size of charities in Ireland.
If you would have any queries in relation to the above or would like assistance in registering your charity with the CRA please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.