Are you making the most of capital allowances

Businesses looking to purchase capital equipment are able to claim tax relief in the form of capital allowances. Here we outline some of the key details.


What is the Annual Investment Allowance?

Businesses purchasing plant and machinery are able to make use of the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA), which allows the costs for equipment, machinery and business vehicles (excluding cars) to be deducted from your profits before tax. The maximum annual amount of the AIA is £200,000. The AIA applies to businesses of any size and most business structures, but there are provisions to prevent multiple claims.

Plant and machinery includes items such as machines, equipment, furniture, certain fixtures, computers and similar equipment you use in your business. However, certain items do not count as plant and machinery. These include buildings, land and structures, and items that you lease. There are special rules for cars and some specific 'environmentally friendly' equipment.

Enhanced Capital Allowances

In addition to the AIA, a 100% first year allowance is also available on energy-saving or environmentally friendly equipment. A separate Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECA) scheme is available for new electric and low carbon dioxide (CO2) emission cars (up to 75 g/km – reducing to 50 g/km from April 2018) and new zero emissions goods vehicles (up to 31 March 2018 (corporates) or 5 April 2018 (others)). They also qualify for the 100% first year allowance.

Expenditure pooling

Where purchases exceed the AIA, a writing down allowance (WDA) is due on any excess in the same period. This WDA is currently set at a rate of 18%. This is the main rate pool and it is available on any expenditure incurred in the current period not covered by the AIA or not eligible for the AIA, as well as on any balance of expenditure remaining from earlier periods.

Certain expenditure on building fixtures, known as integral features (eg lighting, air conditioning, heating, etc) is only eligible for an 8% WDA so is allocated to a separate 'special rate pool', though integral features do qualify for the AIA.

Motor vehicle expenditure

With regard to capital allowances, special rules govern the treatment of expenditure on vehicles. Cars do not qualify for the AIA, but other specific types of vehicle are treated as pool, plant and machinery.

For business cars, a vehicle's level of CO2 emissions plays a key role in its capital allowance treatment. New low emission cars acquired between 1/6 April 2015 and 31 March/5 April 2018 and not exceeding 75 g/km CO2 emissions will be allocated to the main rate pool, and will be eligible for a 100% allowance. Vehicles not exceeding 130 g/km CO2 emissions will also be allocated to the main rate pool, but will be eligible for an 18% WDA. Those that exceed 130 g/km CO2 emissions will be allocated to the special rate pool, and will be eligible for an 8% WDA.

From April 2018, new capital allowance rules for cars are set to take effect.

How do I make a claim for capital allowances?

Businesses are required to make a claim for capital allowances through their tax return. Unincorporated businesses must make a claim within 12 months after the 31 January tax return filing deadline. Companies must ensure that their claim is made within two years of the end of the accounting period.

If you are considering investing in plant and machinery, please talk to us first as we can help to ensure that you time your purchase to receive the maximum tax benefit.