Should you fast track your capital expenditure plans?
For many businesses the prospect of obtaining a 100% tax deduction for the cost of plant and machinery purchased by the business is attractive. The Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) provides such a deduction to many businesses for the cost of most plant and machinery (not cars) purchased by a business up to an annual limit. Where businesses spend more than the annual limit, any additional qualifying expenditure generally attracts an annual writing down allowance of only 18% or 8% depending on the type of asset.
The maximum annual amount of the AIA was increased to £500,000 from 1 April 2014 for companies or 6 April 2014 for unincorporated businesses until 31 December 2015 but was due to return to £25,000 after this date.
Following conversations with business groups, George Osborne announced in the Second Budget on 8th July that this would be set permanently at £200,000 for all qualifying investment in plant and machinery made on or after 1 January 2016.
To take advantage of the higher threshold it would make commercial sense to fast track capital expenditure plans but there are important factors that will affect the amount of relief available.
The AIA is available for expenditure on an accounting period basis. For example if you have a 30 September year end, expenditure incurred between 1 October 2014 and 30 September 2015 reduces the same tax liability.
On the previous occasions where there has been a change in AIA, there have been transitional provisions to calculate the amount AIA in an accounting period which straddles the date of change. If the transitional provisions for the 1 January 2016 are similar to the previous changes, there will be two important elements to the calculations:
1. A calculation which sets the maximum AIA available to a business in an accounting period which straddles 1 January 2016.
2. A further calculation which limits the maximum AIA relief that will be available for expenditure incurred from 1 January 2016 to the end of that accounting period.
It is the second figure that can catch a business out.
|With the new AIA set at £200,000.|
|A company has a 31 March year end.|
|The maximum AIA in the accounting period to 31 March 2016 will be:|
|9 months to 31 Dec 2015 (three quarters of £500,000)||£375,000|
|3 months from 1 Jan 2016 (one quarter of £200,000)||£50,000|
|Total annual AIA using first calculation||£425,000|
This is still a generous figure. However, if expenditure is incurred on or after 1 January to 31 March 2016 the maximum amount of relief for that expenditure will only be £50,000. This is because of the restrictive nature of the second calculation.
Alternatively, the business could defer its expenditure until after 31 March 2016. In the accounting period to 31 March 2017, AIA will be £200,000. However, tax relief will have been deferred for a full year. In tax terms, the best advice is for the business to ensure that significant expenditure is incurred before AIA changes.