HM Revenue and Customs introduced the Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) Scheme in April 2002. This article serves as a general update as to the requirements of registration of a CASC, structures of a CASC and the benefits of being a CASC.

Benefits of being a CASC

A CASC will enjoy some of the same tax benefits as charities. Such tax reliefs include Gift Aid on qualifying donations (as well as the small donations scheme), exemption from corporation tax (subject to the level of turnover), and the mandatory 80% rates relief. CASCs will not receive VAT relief on the purchase of goods and services like charities do.

Registration of a CASC – eligibility and requirements

To register your sports club as a CASC, you will need to satisfy HMRC that:

  • the club’s activities are not limited to one particular group and membership is available to the whole community. The club’s membership fees must not create a barrier to membership or the use of the club’s facilities;
  • the club’s activities are also for non-professionals;
  • the club’s purpose (or its primary purpose) is to provide facilities for, and the promotion of participation in, one or more eligible sports;
  • the club receives up to £100,000 in an accounting period lasting 12 months from non-member trading and property income (e.g. renting the club’s premises or clubhouse, etc.);
  • the club meets the management condition, i.e. the club’s managers are regarded as fit and proper persons – being the same test for trustees of a charity; and
  • the club meets the location condition – the CASC scheme is only available to clubs in the UK and other EU member states.

It is essential that you read the rules regarding membership fees carefully before proceeding with registration as this may prohibit you from being able to register your sports club as a CASC.

If the income limit is the only barrier to registering your sports club as a CASC or it is a CASC whose non-member trading and property income is likely to cause its de-registration at HMRC, then there are alternatives that can be considered to reduce the club exceeding its income limit.

Your sports club must meet all of the above requirements before it can register as a CASC; it is not enough that the club proposes to meet these conditions.  You will also need to have a governing document for the club that is eligible for registration with HMRC.

It is important to be aware that once you apply to register your sports club as a CASC, you cannot withdraw the application. 

Structures of a CASC

A CASC may be:

  • a company limited by guarantee with membership provisions clearly defined in its Articles of Association;
  • a company limited by shares with the members all having equal shareholding – again, this would need to be specifically set out in the Articles of Association; and
  • an unincorporated association that has a Constitution setting out the membership provisions.

If you are registering your sports club as a CASC without taking legal advice, then we would strongly recommend you consider HMRC’s detailed guidance as to what the governing document should contain.

As a CASC, can we also be a charity?

Unfortunately, a CASC cannot also be a charity. If a sports club does not wish to register as a CASC or it does not meet the eligibility criteria for a CASC, then it may be able to register as a charity. You can find details of the requirements for charity registration on the Charity Commission’s website.

If a charity makes an application to be a CASC to HMRC and is found to meet the qualifying criteria, then HMRC must register the CASC, meaning it would no longer be entitled to be a charity. This is likely to create substantial implications and, therefore, we would advise that any charity wishing to become a CASC takes legal advice before starting its application with HMRC.

If you are a CASC but want to be a charity, then you would need to set up a charity which, depending on its income or if it is proposed to be a charitable incorporated organisation, would need to be registered with Charity Commission. You would also need to apply for registration with HMRC as a charity and deal with the transfer of assets and liabilities from the CASC to the charity and the dissolution of the CASC with HMRC.

Further information

If you are interested in registering your club as a CASC, please get in touch with Sarah Tomlinson or Katie Douglas.