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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Have you received a letter from the Charity Commission?

The Commission is this week issuing letters to over 8,800 charity trustees to remind them their charity’s annual return is due for submission this month.

All registered charities must report to the Commission annually on their finances, resources and activities. This isn’t just a legal duty but an important means of keeping the public up-to-date with the work of charities, many of which receive a great deal of public support and funding.

Each registered charity has 10 months from the end of their financial year to submit the required information, which includes completion of an online annual monitoring return form, attaching the charity’s:

  • accounts
  • trustees’ annual report
  • report from independent examiner / auditor, as applicable.

With many charities having a financial year end of 31 March, the end of January marks a peak period for the submission of accounts and reports to the Commission. In fact, some 2,050 charities are due to submit by 31 January 2020 – of which 700 have already filed annual reporting information.

If a charity fails to submit their annual reporting information on time, their entry on the public register of charities will be automatically marked in red as 'In default' . If they submit after the deadline, the message will be updated to reflect the submission of information late.

As all charity trustees are responsible for ensuring their charity submits annual reporting information on time, the Commission is issuing reminder letters to the trustees of the 1,350 registered charities which have a 31 January deadline and have not yet filed – 8,870 trustees in total. There is no suggestion that any of charities may go into default but the Commission hopes that by contacting as many trustees as possible, the trustees will work together to ensure they comply with their obligation to file on time.

For more information, or if you have a query regarding an annual reporting reminder you have received, please read the Commission’s FAQs below.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

I have received a letter to my home address from the Commission, which says it is a "final reminder to submit an annual monitoring return". I haven’t received this before why I am getting this now?

The Commission issue regular notifications to charities to remind them about their annual reporting deadline date. That is, the latest date they must submit their annual monitoring return, accounts and reports to the Commission for a particular financial year. Charities have 10 months after their financial year end date to submit this information to the Commission.

Usually, the Commission issue email notifications regarding annual reporting to the charity contact only. However, as all charity trustees are responsible for ensuring their charity submits annual reporting information on time, we are writing to a number of charity trustees, individually, on a trial basis.

If a charity fails to submit their accounts to the Commission or submits their accounts late, a status of In default or Due documents received late is shown publicly on the register of charities, which can be damaging for the charity’s reputation. By contacting as many trustees as possible, the Commission hopes that trustees will work together to ensure they comply with their obligation to file annual reporting information with the Commission, on time.

Do I need to contact the Commission?

There is no need to contact the Commission – this letter was issued to you in your role as a charity trustee. If you have any queries with the accounts then you should speak to your colleagues in the charity and/or your independent examiner.

The Commission also has a suite of guidance on your accounting and reporting responsibilities which can be found here.

I am not the person within the charity responsible for submitting accounts - why did I get this letter?

All charity trustees are equally responsible for the legal requirement of submitting accounts and reports to the Commission. If you have an accountant or treasurer who normally conducts this role on your behalf, you need to contact them, however it remains the responsibility of charity trustees to ensure the accounts and reports are submitted.

I am no longer a charity trustee, can you please remove my name from your register of charities?

Any changes to the register of charities are administered by the charity itself through Online Services for charities. If you are no longer a charity trustee then you should NOT contact the Commission, you should contact the charity to request that the entry on the register of charities is updated.

For all other queries on the submission of accounts please see the annual reporting FAQs section of our website here.