The date of the financial year end, or accounting reference date, is an important part of the information about a charity that is contained in the Scottish Charity Register (‘the Register’). It is the date to which accounts are prepared by the charity.
Where a charity is an unincorporated association, a Trust or a SCIO the financial year will begin on the date that the charity is entered on the Register.
Where a charity is also a company, the date of the start of the first financial year is the date that the company was incorporated.
Where a charity is established under the law of a country or territory other than Scotland the date the financial year starts will be the date the charity was established.
The first financial year of a charity must be for a period not less than six months and not greater than eighteen months from the date the financial year begins.
Charitable companies must make sure that the establishment of their financial year also complies with the Companies Act.
The charity trustees may specify a new financial year end date for either:
as long as the financial year is no longer than 18 months and a charity does not have three or more financial years exceeding 12 months in any five-year period.
A notice of the change must be given to OSCR within three months of the date of the decision to change the accounting reference date. The change can be made through the charity’s OSCR online account.
Charitable companies must make sure that any change to their financial year complies with the Companies Act and that Companies House is notified of any change.
If a charity is removed from the Register for any reason (as opposed to winding up), it must still prepare and submit accounts to us for any outstanding charity assets held at the time of removal. This is because the assets still need to be used for charitable purposes and we use the accounts to check that is the case.
Former charities are still required to prepare accounts for these assets and make sure the accounts are externally scrutinised in line with the 2005 Act and the 2006 Regulations.
Where a charity is removed from the Register, its financial year will begin on the day after its previous full financial year end and end on the date of its removal from the Register.
More information can be found in our Monitoring of former charities guidance.