Archive February 2020
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We have become so used to hearing about Charity Trustees who have gone bad and lost the run of themselves but, in this case, depending on one’s viewpoint the only ones losing the run of themselves is either the Charities Regulator or the Revenue Commissioners or both.
Paul Murphy of RTÉ Investigates issued a fascinating update on 21.02.2020 entitled “Charities Regulator excoriated after its Trustee Nominees sued by Revenue”. When reading this article you must suspend any thoughts about “sense” “logic” “appreciation” with “weird” “illogical” and “what on earth”.
In brief, the Kerry based Animal Heaven Animal Rescue (AHAR) incurred substantial tax liabilities which ultimately led to the closure of the Charity.
o January 2017 – RTÉ Investigates exposed misleading fundraising practices, unreceipted cash expenditure and a lack of financial controls.
o March 2019 – the Charity was wound up following an audit which had commenced over 18 months before the Charities Regulator nominated four Trustees.
o April 2019 – the Revenue initiated High Court proceedings against the Trustees nominated by the Charities Regulator.
AHAR is now wound up but, had tax liabilities of €203,000 of which €140,000 has been paid with a commitment to repay the balance of €60,000 in October 2020. Given the tax liabilities are being repaid, and (based on RTÉ Investigates reports) the Revenue have stated its intention to drop these proceedings if the outstanding tax liability is discharged in full why is the Revenue taking proceedings against the current Trustees?
Concerns over the level of “poor governance” at the Charity prompted the Charities Regulator to start nominating Trustees in order to “Implement proper governance and controls of the charity”
The Trustees (nominated by the Charities Regulator) did not receive any remuneration or expenses for their work. They are however receiving legal bills as they have to defend themselves against prosecution by the Revenue which must be costing each of them somewhere between €12k to €15k each.
The Charities Regulator expressed “sympathy” for the Trustees nominated by his office to help sort out CRA issues with the Charity.
One thing for sure the very people who were put in to help rescue the situation were the ones who are being been hammered. Why would anyone want to be involved with a Charity at any level based on this type of scenario where people were doing the right thing for the right reasons and still lose!
All companies are required to keep adequate accounting records but, what precisely does “adequate accounting records” mean?
Adequate accounting records are records which:
- correctly record and explain transactions of a company;
- detail assets, liabilities, financial position, profit or loss of a company; and
- enable directors to prepare annual financial statements.
The type of information which must be contained within the accounting records should cover information such as outlined below.
- All monies received and spent
- All assets and debts
- All purchases and sales
- Records of stock held
- Records of services purchased or provided
- Record of all goods bought and sold, including a record of itemised invoices
Time is money so, handling all of the above personally may not be the most cost effective option for a company.
- having a qualified book-keeper (part-time or full-time)
- retaining information in a simple format - does not have to be a costly bespoke piece of software.
As always, if you have any questions on this blog please contract myself or one of my colleagues.
If you cast your mind back to before we all dug into Mince Pies and Christmas pudding, you might recall the hullabaloo concerning registering beneficial owner details of practically every company in Ireland on the Register of Beneficial Ownership before an end of November deadline.
While companies were by and large aware of their obligations it has been my experience that Charities are not as aware that they too must Register and even if they are aware the first question I hear is …. “but who are the ‘Beneficial Owners’ of our Charity?”. This blog will try and answer that question……….
‘Control’ is the key as under Beneficial Ownership rules this determines who must register. In your standard limited liability company, it is generally the case that whoever holds over 25% of the shares in the company is considered to ‘control’ it and must register their details. Most charities however are companies limited by guarantees (CLG’s) and don’t have shares. As such you have to look at its members as in general they are entitled to exercise, through their right to vote at general meetings, some ‘control’ over the company. Then it is simply a question of numbers!
- ≤ 3 members
If there are 3 or fewer members in a Charity CLG, those members are likely to meet the definition of “control” (because each member has greater than 25% of the voting rights) and their details must be placed on the Register of Beneficial Ownership.
- ≥ 4 members
If there are 4 or more members in a Charity CLG (which is typically the case in most charities), no one member has over 25% of the voting rights and so they do not qualify as a beneficial owner. In this case, the details of the “senior managing officials” (i.e. its Directors and any Chief Executive Officer) must be placed on the Register of Beneficial Ownership.
As you would expect, my easy numbers rule is not the case for every single charity and there can be exceptions (e.g. the constitution of the Charity prescribes ‘control’ in a particular way) but by and an large the members ‘rule’ applies to the vast majority of charities and is an easy way of identifying who must register.
As always, if you have any questions on this blog please contact myself or one of my colleagues.
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