JIS News

Story Highlights

  • DCFS is encouraging all charities to keep good financial records to ensure smooth transition when they are to be re-registered.
  • Following the passage of the Omnibus legislation in December, the Government mandated the DCFS as the authority to oversee the activities of all charities.
  • The Registrar highlighted that the Department is aware that some charities cannot afford the services of an auditor in order to submit audited financial statements.

The Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies (DCFS) is encouraging all charities to keep good financial records to ensure smooth transition when they are to be re-registered.

Following the passage of the Omnibus legislation in December, the Government mandated the DCFS as the authority to oversee the activities of all charities.

In the past, the Department was responsible for regulating sub-charities under the Friendly Societies Act.

Speaking with JIS News, Registrar of the Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies, Errol Gallimore said the office has been encountering challenges with the registration process of charities. Specifically, he said, some charities’ financial statements show that their records are not being kept up to date.

“For some charities, their last financial statement is 10 years old and we cannot process those applications with such out-dated records. We have tried to impress upon them…that it is a new regime…the days of having no financial records or out-dated records is of the past,” Mr. Gallimore said.

The Registrar highlighted that the Department is aware that some charities cannot afford the services of an auditor in order to submit audited financial statements.

“They are unable to do so as some charities rely on donations, some of which are given for specific purposes. We recognise that there will be challenges because of the cost involved with accessing auditing services.

We have put in place some amount of flexibility for them to submit unaudited financial statements and then we give them some time to submit the audited statement,” he said.

The Department is also willing to assist registered charities with their financial statements.

All charities are expected to transition to the new regulatory regime by June 24, 2014. The transition period began in December 2013.

Mr. Gallimore noted that while charities, which do not register or re-register during this period will still have the opportunity to do so, there are benefits associated with the transition period.

These include a waived registration fee. “These charities will continue to enjoy all the other privileges they had before the transition period, until June 24, 2014,” Mr. Gallimore explained.

He also added that there are some registration requirements that some charities will not be able to meet, because they are new. Those charities can benefit by starting the registration process now, and have the remainder of the transition period to meet these criteria.

New and existing charities are required to complete an application form, which can be accessed on the DCFS’ website at: http://dcfsjamaica.org/site/download.html  or
call 927-4912 or 927-6572 for more detail.

Charities are required to submit their articles of cooperation, constitution or rules, depending on the type of society, as well as their financial statements.

He also explained that newly registered charities are required to submit audited financial statements within a year of operating as a registered charity, while existing charities are expected to submit theirs, along with registration form and other documents, and their financial records for the previous year.

Meanwhile, charities will soon be asked to complete a fit and proper form. This will require additional information needed by the DCFS or Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ). The tentative deadline for this is June 1.

“Once all forms are filled out and documentations received, TAJ is given 14 days to state whether or not they have any objection to the application. If they have none, we proceed with the application. If they do have objections we try our best to regularize that objection and provide the necessary information to clarify that which TAJ might require,” he said.

Mr. Gallimore explained that in the event that the application is refused, the applicant has the option to proceed, reapply at a later date, or accept the decision.

“As we move forward, after the deadline of June 24, 2014 we are going to ensure that on a yearly basis whenever the financial year ends for a charity, the financial statements are submitted to us within the first three months as part of the ongoing monitoring process,” Mr. Gallimore outlined.

The Omnibus legislation seeks to establish a transparent and coherent regime to govern all tax incentives.  As a result, all charities are required to be registered/re-registered with Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies.