In Ireland when an organisation has "charitable status" it simply means that it is recognised as charitable by the Revenue Commissioners for tax purposes. There is currently no official "Register of Charities" in Ireland. However, you should note that the Charities Act 2009, when fully implemented, will introduce such a register for the first time. However, this is not likely to happen until 2011 at the earliest.
Applying to be recognised as a charity by the Revenue Commissioners involves groups applying for exemption from certain taxes and separately to the Valuation Office for exemption from rates on buildings. This can be important to a group for both fundraising purposes and also for exemption from certain taxes. Charitable status does not give legal status to an organisation, nor confer incorporation. A group can have charitable status without being incorporated and vice versa.
Charitable status does not give legal status to an organisation nor confer incorporation. A group can have charitable status without being incorporated and vice versa.
In order to recognised as charitable an organisation must have:
- Legal status by means of a specific legal structure with its associated ‘governing instrument’ (see next section). This means that it has a written constitution or a Memorandum and Articles of Association or a Trust Deed;
- The 'governing instrument'/document must include a clause stating that the organisation will use its money for charitable purposes only;
- The aims of the organisation as set out in the constitution must be exclusively charitable and must come under one of the following headings or definitions of charity:
- The relief of poverty;
- The advancement of education;
- The advancement of religion; or
- Other purposes beneficial to the community.
When applying to be recognised as a charity for tax purposes the organisation must send in:
- A completed application form (download form CHY1 from the Revenue Commissioners website)
- Its governing instrument [e.g. a constitution, deed of trust or Memorandum and Articles of Association]
- A statement of activities
- The latest financial accounts
- The names and addresses of its officers.
The above items should be sent to the following address:
Office of the Revenue Commissioners,
Tel: 067-35533 or 6674211 (for Dublin callers)
Please note: There is usually be a delay of several weeks in dealing with applications and the application may take some time as the Revenue Commissioners may require the governing instrument to be amended before deciding whether they will recognise the organisation as charitable. If the organisation is recognised as a charity it will be allocated a CHY number by the Revenue Commissioners. This means that it is exempt from various taxes such as DIRT, income tax and corporation tax (if it is a company).