The revised CASC scheme will come into force on 1 April 2015. Looking ahead at some of the changes to scheme is Policy Adviser Leigh Thompson.
They say the best things come to those who wait. Well, for those involved in the reform of the Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASC) scheme, the wait has been a long and sometimes difficult one. After almost two years of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) consultation the CASC Regulations 2015 have finally been made and the revised scheme will come into being on 1 April 2015.
But has the wait been worth it? And what will the changes mean in practice? Currently over 6,500 clubs are registered as CASCs and many other clubs are considering it as an option. As such, the revisions to the scheme will be of interest both to existing CASC clubs and those looking to apply for CASC status.
The new rules
The revisions to the scheme introduce new or amended rules in a number of areas including:
• An increase in the corporation tax exemption thresholds on trading and property income to £50,000 and £30,000 per annum respectively;
• The extension of corporate Gift Aid;
• An upper limit on annual membership fees of £1,612;
• A threshold for the costs of participation in club sporting activities, above which clubs must make provision for those on low incomes;
• A cap on total trading (non-member) and property income of £100,000 per annum;
• A requirement for at least 50% of members to participate in club sporting activities and;
• The ability to pay players up to £10,000 per annum.
I will explore some of the most significant rule changes in more detail below. I have also listed some useful further links at the bottom of this blog where you can find further information.
The existing exemption thresholds for Corporation Tax will be raised. For trading (i.e. non-member) income the threshold will rise from £30,000 to £50,000 per annum and for property income the threshold will rise from £20,000 to £30,000 per annum. The measure of this income is "gross" i.e. before expenses are deducted. Where a club generates income in excess of these thresholds it must pay tax on the whole of the profit.
In addition to Corporation Tax exemptions, the new rules extend corporate Gift Aid to companies for donations to CASCs. Importantly this includes donations made to a CASC by a trading subsidiary (see Income condition below).
Fees and costs associated with membership
Under the new rules clubs must not charge more than a maximum allowable membership fee of £1,612 per annum; anything higher will not comply with the scheme requirements to be open to the whole community.
In addition clubs must make a calculation to work out how much it costs to participate in the sporting activities of the club. These costs associated with membership comprise membership fees and any additional mandatory costs (e.g. match fees) incurred to participate in the sport.
Where the costs associated with membership are greater than £520 per annum (i.e. £10 per week), clubs are required to demonstrate that they have measures in place to ensure that such costs do not present a significant obstacle to participation. In practice this means clubs will need to consider having some form of membership offer that comes within the £520 threshold or have clear provisions in place to deal with those on low incomes who are unable to afford the costs associated with membership over £520. Examples of acceptable provisions will be set out in forthcoming HMRC guidance.
As now, CASCs will be able to generate unlimited income from members. However the new rules introduce an income condition which specifies that clubs may earn up to a maximum of £100,000 per annum from non-member trading and non-member and member property income. Where a club earns more than this (or is at risk of doing so) it will be able to set up a trading subsidiary. Income generated by the subsidiary will not count towards the club’s income condition threshold.
In order to meet the main purpose of promoting participation in an eligible sport clubs will need to ensure that at least 50% of members are participating members as opposed to social members. For members to be classed as ‘participating’ they must participate in the sporting activities of the club a minimum number of times; for a year-round club the participation threshold is 12 times per annum (once a month). This threshold can be pro-rated for seasonal clubs that are open for only part of the year.
Under the new rules CASCs will be able to pay a player or players up to £10,000 per annum. There is no limit on the number of players that can be paid provided the total amount is less than the £10,000 limit. Amounts paid to players include certain expenses and benefits and must be agreed on an arms-length basis. Certain people connected to the club (e.g. managers or officers who have control over club administration) cannot be paid to play under these arrangements.
In view of the above it is clear that the new rules will put a premium on club officers keeping accurate records to ensure they have a firm grip on sources of income (member vs. non-member and property income) as well as levels of participation amongst the membership.
Our understanding is that HMRC will take a common sense and proportionate approach to compliance but clubs will nonetheless need to be able to demonstrate they have been operating in accordance with the scheme rules if required.
If you are involved in running a CASC club you might well be asking: what should I do next? Overall, the message is don’t panic!
HMRC has committed to writing to all registered CASC clubs setting out the next steps but it would nevertheless be sensible to contact your relevant NGB if you have any concerns or are unsure of what you need to do. Many NGBs have been closely involved in the development of the new rules through the HMRC’s CASC Forum and will have the right knowledge and expertise to help you – see the useful links below.
In addition HMRC confirmed in the most recent consultation response that there will be a 12 month transition period, starting from 1 April 2015, during which clubs can take appropriate measures to ensure they comply with the new rules. As a result you should have time to assess the impact of the new rules on your club and make changes as necessary.
As always, if you have specific queries or issues to resolve we would always recommend taking proper professional advice.
National Governing Bodies:
British Gliding Association
England and Wales Cricket Board
English Indoor Bowls Association
Lawn Tennis Association
Royal Yachting Association
Rugby Football Union
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