When a school or college becomes an academy and is no longer under local authority control it qualifies as a charity.

Academies are "exempt" charities by virtue of the Charities Act 2011, Schedule 3. This means that they are not required to register formally with the Charity Commission, yet have the same charitable status as those organisations that are fully registered charities.

This can lead to problems when claiming the VAT reliefs available to charities, particularly in connection with property transactions where evidence of charitable status may be requested.

Often an academy may still need to confirm its charitable status with HMRC, whether for Gift Aid purposes or for Corporation Tax reasons. However, this process has not necessarily been relevant for VAT purposes.

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