You have to pay tax to gift aid a donation to a charity. This is because the charity is claiming back from HMRC, the tax you have already paid. If you don't pay any this isn't possible.
This is not and exhaustive list, but start by adding up the tax you pay on employment, pensions, rental income and savings. Be aware that in April 2016/17 the rules on the taxation of savings income changed and the dividend tax credit is being abolished and this may reduce the tax you pay.
Once you know how much tax you are likely to pay in the year, multiply the amount by 4, the result is the amount you can gift aid in the year.
For example; if you pay £1,000 in tax you can gift aid up to £4,000 of donations. Your chosen charities will claim back the £1,000 tax you have paid.
Keep records and if you are more than a basic rate taxpayer it is worth informing HMRC to claim gift aid relief.
For information - The gift aid regulations state that attractions like museums and zoos must charge a higher entry fee to people choosing to gift aid. This has not been practiced by many over the years ,but is being more rigorously enforced these days.
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