No excuses for filing late charity accounts

The Charity Commission has published a sample of excuses it has received from charities, for not filing their accounts on time.

Despite all charities with income over £25,000 being required to submit accounts, thousands are in default. Excuses received by the commission include: “I don’t have access to the internet” (sent via email), “I’m not involved with this charity’s requirements, I am a trustee” and “I already did it…last year”.

The revelations comes after research conducted by the commission also found that almost a third (32 percent of accounts) submitted up to end of March 2013, were not of ‘adequate quality.’ This represents an improvement from the previous year analysed, where nearly half (46 percent) were inadequate.

The commission receives 60,000 sets of accounts each year. Almost 7,000 are required to have their accounts formally audited. Twelve months ago, the commission began a three-year programme of transformation in the way it works. When complete, it will enable the commission to more effectively monitor accounts and intervene earlier when problems arise.

William Shawcross, chairman of the commission said: “Although these excuses are amusing, there is a serious point – after a difficult year for charities, it is essential they do all they can to be open about their finances. I hope trustees take note and file their accounts. If not, they could be hearing from the commission soon.”

A sample of excuses received by the commission for not filing their accounts include:

  • Your website was closed
  • I’m only a volunteer
  • Joe does this, it is not my job
  • The person with the password is in New York and isn’t contactable because of a hurricane
  • The School provides us with office space but it is the school holidays and they are shut
  • I cannot log onto your site, what is my charity number?
  • Can I log onto your site from someone else’s computer?
  • My secretary schedules to file each year, on deadline day and she is off sick
  • The accounts aren’t ready so I recorded zero income and zero expenditure so we wouldn’t show as being in default on the register
  • It’s the accountant’s responsibility not mine
  • Our computer caught fire and we lost all the financial data
  • Deadline day falls on a religious holiday so we couldn’t file (sent by a regular defaulter)
  • I’m only new
  • No-one told me when we registered
  • You never sent me reminders
  • I don’t believe in using computers
  • Computers are satanic
  • Our office was broken into and the thieves made off with the financial records
  • My boot came open on the motorway and the papers went down the M1

And finally…..the commission received one set of incomplete accounts with bite marks.

Moore Thompson’s financial services for the charity and voluntary sector can help you ensure that your accounts are filed on time and are fully compliant. For more information about how we can help, please contact us.