January 31st annual reporting deadline for over 2,000 charities
Over 2,000 Northern Ireland charities must submit their annual accounts and reports to the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland this month, the regulator has revealed.
Under charity law, every registered charity in Northern Ireland must provide annual accounts, which have been independently examined or audited, as well as a trustees’ report to the Commission within ten months of their financial year end.
And, with 31 March 2019 having marked the financial year end for many charities, this means that 31 January will be a peak period for the Commission with 2,050 registered charities due to submit by that date.
“Around 1,125 charities have already submitted their accounts in advance of the deadline,” said the Commission’s Head of Enquiries & Compliance, Myles McKeown. “Which leaves just over 910 charities which we hope are busy getting their accounts and reports ready for submission before midnight on 31 January 2020.”
When a charity submits the required accounts and reports by deadline, it is noted as being “up to date”, and the accounts are also made public on the register, supporting a new era of openness and transparency within the charity sector.
However, not submitting the information on time can have a reputational impact – where a charity has submitted late or has gone into default (failed to submit), that is also clearly marked on the charity’s register of charities entry.
“Not only can a default status flag the charity up as a concern to the Commission’s enquiries team, but it may also raise queries amongst the charity’s supporters, funders and others,” Mr McKeown continued.
“It is the collective responsibility of every charity trustee to ensure the charity’s annual return for the financial year is submitted to the Commission on time and in the correct format.
“That is why we not only issue text reminders to the charity’s main contact but we also write to charity trustees a few weeks beforehand to highlight the deadline. For example, we recently issued a reminder letter to 8,870 trustees of the 1,350 charities due to submit by 31 January and which had not done so at that date.”
Annual reporting by charities was first introduced into Northern Ireland on 1 January 2016. Under the regulations, all registered charities must submit the following information to the Commission, beginning with their first full financial year after registration:
- trustees’ annual report
- report from independent examiner / auditor, as applicable.
Since January 2016, over 13,000 charity accounts and reports have been published on the register of charities, opening this financial information up to public scrutiny, in many cases for the first time.
For more information please contact Shirley Kernan, Charity Commission for Northern Ireland Communications Officer, on tel: 028 3832 0169 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is the independent regulator of charities in Northern Ireland, established under the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008.
A non-departmental public body, the Commission is sponsored by the Department for Communities and has a number of legal functions where it uses powers similar to those of the High Court.