The Charities Regulatory Authority ("CRA") was established on the 16th October 2014.
At the time the CRA highlighted the establishment and maintenance of a register of charities and the roll out of financial and reporting obligations for charities as it's immediate priorities.
In this note we will look to see what progress has been made 6 months on.
REGISTER OF CHARITIES
Since the commencement of the Charities Act 2009 in October last year all charities operating within the State must, except in a limited number of cases, apply to the CRA to be registered in the Register of Charities.
Charities holding a valid CHY number on the 15th of October 2014 were automatically registered in the Register of Charities.
All other charities had initially until 16 April 2015 to apply to the CRA to register.
It has now been announced that only around 200 of more than 4,000 charities required to register with the CRA have done so leading the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to announce a 12 month extension of the registration deadline.
Any charity, which is not already on, or in the process applying to go on, the Register of Charities should visit the CRA website at www.charitiesregulatory.ie where details of the registration process can be found.
To begin the registration process the charity needs to apply for an account with the CRA. The CRA will then send the charity a letter which will allow the charity to create an online account through which the charity can apply to be registered.
A charity which is required to apply to go on the Register and which fails to do so within the prescribed time limit will be guilty of an offence, as will be the trustees of the charity, if it continues to carry on activities in the State.
As charities will have effectively been given 18 months to register with the CRA it is unlikely that a further extension will be provided so charities should take steps sooner rather than later to engage in the registration process to avoid the possible imposition of penalties in the future.
FINANCIAL AND ANNUAL ACTIVITY REPORTS
The other main priority of the CRA is the roll out of the financial and annual activity reports which charities are obliged to prepare under the Charities Act 2009.
A charity is obliged, subject to certain exceptions, to prepare an annual statement of accounts. The form and information to be contained therein is to be specified by the CRA and may vary depending on the level of income or...