Charity Commission Annual Return - How To Prepare And File Your Return, Annual Report And Accounts

The Charity Commission guidance includes specific regulations on filing your online annual return, report and accounts. Here's what you need to know and do to prepare and submit yours, with links to all the resources you'll need, including the Charity Commission login.

A Guide To Submitting Charity Commission Annual Returns, Reports And Accounts

This simple, practical guide gives you everything you need to know and do to submit your online Charity Commission Annual Return and file your trustees' annual report and accounts, including a link to the Charity Commission login. There is a separate resource for charity audit and independent examination.

The Difference Between Charity Commission Annual Returns, Annual Reports And Impact Reporting

There can be a bit of confusion between Charity Commission annual returns and reports. 

  • Annual Returns - all registered charities must submit an annual return online.  The guidance on how to do that is below. 
  • Annual Reports - all registered charities must also prepare a charity trustee's annual report - here's the Charity Commission guidance on how to do that.  But you don't have to upload that as part of your online annual return, as long as your income is under £25,000. 
  • Impact Reports - many charities also create an impact report.  This is not a regulatory requirement but can be a very good way of communicating your work to your stakeholders, not least your funders in a much more accessible and engaging way.  Here's the Charity Excellence guide on impact reporting. 

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What you need to do to prepare your Charity Commission annual return and accounts

How To Prepare Your Charity Commission Annual Return

Charity Commission annual returns for small non-company charities

If your income is under £500,000 (and it doesn’t have assets worth more than £3.26m), prepare a simple return including:

  • your charity’s name, registration number, address and trustee names.
  • its structure and details of how it is managed, including how it recruits trustees.
  • its activities and objectives in the year.
  • its achievements and performance, including reporting on its public benefit.
  • a financial review including any debts and details of your reserves policy (if applicable).
  • details of any funds held as a custodian trustee.

You can put more detail into your trustees’ annual report if you want to. You only have to send a copy to the Charity Commission with your annual return if your income is more than £25,000.  The Commission provides report templates you can use. 

Charity Commission annual returns for large or company charities

Prepare a full trustees’ annual return if either:

  • your charity’s income is above £500,000 (or above £250,000 if its assets are worth more than £3.26m).
  • your charity is a company or CIO.

A full return needs to follow the guidelines set out by SORP.  

How To Prepare Your Charity Annual Accounts

Use this toolkit to identify what the Charity Commission needs you to do to prepare your annual accounts.  You may also find Charity Commission CC16 (Receipts and payments accounts pack) and CC17 (Accruals accounts pack - SORP FRS 102) useful. 

There is sometimes confusion between cash and accrual accounting - the difference is one of timing.  If you record income or expenses when you pay or receive money, it’s cash based accounting. If you do it when you receive a bill or raise an invoice, it’s accruals based accounting.  Often, small charities use cash based accounting and larger ones accruals. 


The Charity Commission annual return requirements and what you need to include.

Submitting Your Charity Commission Annual Return

You must submit your annual return within 10 months of the end of your financial year.

Income under £10,000

You only need to report your income and spending.

Income between £10,000 and £25,000

You must answer questions about your charity in an annual return, but do not need to include any other documents.

Income over £25,000

You must answer questions about your charity in an annual return and also provide copies of your:

  1. Trustee annual report.
  2. Accounts.
  3. Independent examiner’s or audit report.

Questions In The Annual Return

The questions you will be asked depend on your income, the type of charity and what the charity does.

You may be asked about:

  • financial information, like income and spending
  • income or contracts from central government or local authorities
  • money provided by the government’s furlough programme, which must be declared individually as ‘income from government grants’
  • income from or work done outside the UK
  • trading subsidiaries
  • trustee payments
  • staff salary bands and benefits

You can download a copy of the questions here


As a CIO or trust, you only submit your return and accounts to the Charity Commission.  If you're a charitable company, there is additional filing and reporting.  

Submit Your Charity Commission Annual Return & Accounts

When your charity was registered, you'll have been sent your login details.  If you've lost these, go to the Charity Commission login page and click the 'Forgotten Your Password?' link.  You'll need your registration number.  A password link will be sent to the contact e mail you gave the Commission. 

Charitable Companies Filing & Reporting

If you are a charitable company, you will also be registered with Companies House and will be required to file a Company Tax Return (CT600) for Corporation Tax with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and your accounts with Companies House.  You can do both here

You can file your confirmation statement here.  This is your confirmation that the information in your Companies House records is up to date.

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This Resource Doesn't Constitute Professional Opinion

I have worked in the sector at senior level for many years and hold an ACCA postgraduate qualification, but am not an accountant and no advice can be applicable to all organisations, in all circumstances, so this resource does not constitute professional opinion.  Essentially, I've summarised the wide ranging and detailed regulatory guidance and augmented this with my own experience and Internet research to create a layman's guide, with links to the source guidance. I hope you found it useful. 

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