There is no fully comprehensive legal definition of a charity in Irish legislation and as such, no Registered Charities in Ireland. There are plans afoot to change this, but in the meantime the only charitable status that exists is that granted by the Revenue Commissioners.
In order to be granted charitable status, the Revenue requires the organisation to:
1. Be legally established in the State; having its centre of management and control in Ireland;
2. Have a minimum of three directors/trustees, with the majority being resident in Ireland;
3. Be bound by a Governing Instrument, e.g. a Memorandum and Articles for a limited company or a Deed of Trust, Constitution or Rules for an unincorporated body.
4. Ensure that the objects and powers of the Governing Instrument are established to deem the body to be charitable (see below).
Objects and powers of the Government Instrument should contain certain clauses in order to be considered for exemption by the Revenue Commissioners. These should refer, amongst others, to:
1. Non-distribution of income, assets or profits to its members;
2. Keeping of annual audited accounts and making these available to the Revenue on request;
3. Prohibiting the payment of fees and salaries (other than reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses) to officers/directors for services rendered in relation to the their service with the body;
4. The measures in place for winding up the organisation, including the transfer of assets to some charitable body having similar objectives itself, or failing that, to some other charitable body;
5. Obtaining approval from the Revenue prior to making any changes to the Governing Instrument.
Applying for Charitable Status
In order to apply for charitable status, a form in the CHY1 leaflet should be completed. Details required by the form include:
1. Details of activities to date and activities proposed;
2. Copy of most recent financial statements;
3. Details of bank accounts where charitable funds are held;
4. Details of any property owned by the organisation;
5. Name and address of all directors/trustees/officers and any connections that individual may have with other charities;
The Governing Instrument also needs to be submitted along with this form.
Information to prepare prior to application
- Are you aware of any other organisation/charity engaged in similar activities to yours? And do you have any formal or other links with these organisations?
- Detailed statement of activities that has been undertaken by your organisation to date and the intended activities for the coming 12 months.
- Details of the organisation’s main sources of income.
- Letters of support from any relevant sources e.g. existing charities, government ministers and ambassadors.
- Letters from any companies or individuals considering making donations or providing funding to you.