Most churches and other organisations wholly or mainly for public religious worship do not have to register with the Charity Commission, although the commission still regulates them. This includes churches linked to the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of England, the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church. But on 31 March 2021, this exception from registration expires.
Act now to register your church as a charity
Churches that set themselves up as charities are entitled to certain tax reliefs, reduced business rates and can claim gift aid. Being a registered charity also, of course, holds certain kudos and attracts donations.
Many charities are choosing to register themselves as Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs). CIOs have the benefit of being a separate legal entity, meaning any contracts or property can be held in the name of the CIO rather than by individuals such as trustees. This means it is the CIO that is liable, not the individuals, if, for example, someone is injured at the property. Read our CIOs Briefing Note to learn more about the benefits of setting up a CIO.
At Gaby Hardwicke we have assisted numerous churches with the process of becoming a CIO. For expert legal advice or to discuss the possibility of becoming a CIO, please contact one of our specialist solicitors: