The Complete Guide To Claiming Capital Allowances

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1 The Complete Guide To Claiming Capital Allowances

2 Is This Guide For You? There are a few simple questions that we will ask you right at the start of this guide to ensure that it is applicable to you:- (1) Do you, or your business, own or have a long lease on a commercial property? (2) Does the entity that owns the property pay tax in the UK? (3) Are you making a profit? If you are able to answer YES to the questions above then this guide is for you and indeed could be worth a considerable amount of money to you or your business. Introduction Capital Allowances are a valuable form of tax relief available to anyone incurring capital expenditure buying or building commercial property. As a business you can claim tax allowances, referred to as capital allowances, on certain purchases or expenditure. This means you can deduct a proportion of these costs from your taxable profits and as a result reduce your tax bill. Capital Allowances are available when one of the following reasons is appropriate; Commercial property is acquired for investment or occupation. Commercial new-build, extension or fitting-out/refurbishment works are undertaken. Capital Allowances are available for two main reasons. Firstly, accounting depreciation is not an allowable deduction for tax purposes. However, Capital Allowances are available instead to give a tax deduction under rules set out by Government. This is the reason that Capital Allowances are also referred to as tax depreciation. 2

3 Secondly, because Capital Allowances provide valuable tax breaks, the Capital Allowances system is used to provide incentives to invest in commercially and economically desirable assets. Capital Allowances are a right not a privilege and it has been estimated that there is in excess of 70 Billion pounds of Capital Allowances yet to be claimed. What Are Capital Allowances? Every businessman who has ever looked at a Profit & Loss Account will be familiar with the term of Deprecation. Depreciation is defined as:- A reduction in the value of a business asset with the passage of time, due in particular to wear and tear. Where a business purchases a capital item it is allowed to depreciate it in its accounts at an annual rate that should roughly correspond with the reduction in value of the item due to age and wear and tear. Back in 1878 the tax authorities in the UK decided that they didn t like depreciation as it was becoming increasingly difficult to check since different assets deprecate at different rates. In 1878 the treasury introduced Capital Allowances which in simple terms is the Governments standard rate of depreciation that it applies to all business assets to allow it to control the rate they are set against tax. The current rate that UK businesses are allowed to claim capital allowances is between 8% - 100% per annum depending on the type of item. 3

4 In very simple terms this breaks down as follows:- Type Enhanced Capital Allowances can be claimed against items that the Government wants you to invest in, currently centred around energy saving and environmentally beneficial items. Rate 100% General Items i.e. not Long Life. 18% Integral features & long life assets 8% Whenever you see Capital Allowances you now know this means the Governments standardised rate of depreciation. How Do Capital Allowances Relate To Property? In most cases, you cannot claim capital allowances against the purchase price of land, buildings or property. This is because often the value of property increases overtime and therefore isn t subject to depreciation. The majority of businesses who purchase a commercial property for 1 Million will show it on their balance sheet as:- Property 1,000, Total 1,000, However the property contains lots of Integral Features such as plumbing, heating systems etc. that do depreciate and can be used to claim Capital Allowances against. Although every property is different we have found that on average in the SME sector these integral features make up 16% of the purchase price of the property and therefore the purchase should have been shown as:- Property 840,000 Fixtures & Fittings 160, Total 1,000,

5 Although capital allowances cannot be claimed in respect of the 840,000 investment in property, full allowances can be claimed against the 160,000 invested in the Fixtures and Fittings. These Capital Allowances translate directly into either a tax refund or future tax that you will no longer need to pay. The actual amounts depend on your circumstances but the table below is a guide to what the allowances are worth based on varying tax rates. Property Owner Amount ( ) Savings if tax rate 40% 64,000 Savings if tax rate 20% 32,000 Savings if Ltd tax rate 23% 36,800 Savings if Ltd tax rate 20% 32,000 Please note these calculations are based on tax rates as at 6th April One final point to make is that Capital Allowances can only be claimed once on a particular property, so if you or a previous owner has already made a claim then you cannot claim again. The specialist claims company appointed to assess the scope to claim should check if a claim has ever been made in respect of your property as part of their due diligence process. Is It Too Late To Claim Capital Allowances? The claim for Capital Allowances is calculated based on the price of the property at the point of purchase and there are no limitations as to how far back in time a retrospective Capital Allowances claim can be made. There are some changes to the rules coming into effect from April The vendor of any building sold after this date will need to pool the Capital Allowances prior to the 5

6 point of sale. The vendor and purchaser need to establish a fair value for the fixtures contained within the property the within the two-year period from the point of sale and complete an S198 election. Failure to do so within the two-year window will mean that the purchaser s claim to capital allowances in the future will be blocked - in fact, not only the current purchaser, but all subsequent purchasers will lose their right. Therefore Section 198 elections should become a standard provision of all sale and purchase agreements for a commercial property interest. Legislation in regards to Tax is constantly changing so it is always better to act sooner rather than later. How Do I Claim Capital Allowances? The process of making a claim for Capital Allowances can be divided into imperative stages and generally isn t something you will be able to do yourself. Due the intricacies involved in the area of taxation it is advised to appoint a specialist capital allowances company to undertake the work. A specialist capital allowance company will usually complete the following steps. Step 1 Due Diligence Ensure the property has not been claimed on before and the client is eligible to claim e.g. tax paying entity. Step 2 Forensic Survey A detailed survey of the property to identify all of the qualifying integral features which were in the property at the time of purchase and improvement works to the property which may also qualify as capital expenditure and therefore items that can be claimed as capital allowances. The schedule produced will detail all the qualifying fixtures including everyday items and also integral items e.g. electrics. 6

7 Examples of the types of items which are often found are as follows:- Lifts Electrics CCTV Fire Alarm Systems Heating Kitchens The Forensic Survey should be undertaken by a professional surveyor. Step 3 Forensic Valuation The claim for Capital Allowances is made based on the date on which you purchased the property so all the Integral Features that have been found as a result of the Forensic Survey now need to be valued at that date e.g. if you purchased the property in 2001 then the central heating boiler, radiator and piping all needs to be valued based on the replacement value in The specialist Capital Allowance companies who undertake these claims have detailed tables of typical costs for all possible Integral Features in each year going back for decades, and will apportion appropriately. Once the Forensic Valuation has been completed then this is compiled into a report detailing the above and serves as the basis for the claim. Step 4 Making the Claim The specialist Capital Allowances Companies will prepare all the paperwork to claim the Capital Allowances and liaise with your own accountant in order to ensure the sign off on the report and submits the allowances within the your tax computations. The claim is submitted and once approved by HMRC you will receive a cheque for the Tax Refund you are due within 4-6 weeks. The whole process typically will take 7

8 between 4-6 months depending on the size and complexity of the building. The process involves some complicated and specialist work but this will normally be undertaken by a specialist. The whole process is not likely to impact on your time or the running of your business to any great extent. Is This A Tax Scam? No this is absolutely not a tax scam or some clever scheme that gets around the rules. Capital allowances are something that the property owning entity is entitled to under UK legislation CAA2001. There is no DOTAS number to enter on the tax return as this is not a tax avoidance scheme. Capital Allowances are a legal entitlement which you can set against your profits to reduce your tax bill. Commercial property owners are encouraged to claim these allowances by HMRC as the tax rebates and deductions can encourage future business investment. Contrary to popular belief the job of HMRC isn t to make sure we pay the most tax, it s to make sure we all pay the correct tax and not claiming these allowances means your business isn t paying the correct tax. Has My Accountant Already Claimed This? Since 94% of commercial properties haven t yet had their Capital Allowances situation assessed then the answer is probably no. To find out just ask your accountant if they split the purchase price of the commercial property into Building and Fixtures & Fittings in the companies accounts. If the answer is yes then ask for the breakdown of figures, in the case of a building used in the care industry the average split is:- Buildings: 84% Fixtures & Fittings: 16% Every building is different so the split for your property won t be exactly the same. If 8

9 there is not a split and 100% of the purchase priced has been apportioned to land and buildings then the allowances probably haven t been claimed. If you find that Capital Allowances haven t been claimed then this doesn t mean your accountant has done anything wrong. Identifying Capital Allowances involves a forensic survey of your building which has to be undertaken by a specialist property surveyor and then calculations worked out in a forensic valuation. If this information wasn t given to your accountant it would have been impossible for them to claim the Capital Allowances on your behalf. Don t worry as there is no time restriction on the property purchase it s not too late, you can start the process of making a Capital Allowances Claim. What Does It Cost? There are a small number of specialist Capital Allowances companies who will undertake the whole process for you based on a No Win/No Fee arrangement. They normally charge:- (1) A fee for performing the forensic survey which varies depending on the value of your building. (2) A percentage of any Capital Allowances they win for you, this percentage should be a single digit percentage of the Capital Allowances identified. You should also be able to agree that you will not have to pay anything until you receive your initial Tax Refund which keeps the whole process cash flow positive. How Do I Get Started? As part of our service we will contact you in the next couple of days to conduct a 9

10 Benefit Analysis for you based on your commercial property. This can be done over the phone and usually takes less than fifteen minutes, we highlight if you are eligible to claim Capital Allowances and provide you with an estimate of what you might be entitle to and the benefit net of any costs. If you are happy with the information we provide we can then introduce you to one of our panel of specialists who can process the claim on your behalf. Disclaimer The aim of this guide is to explain Capital Allowances that can be claim on UK Commercial Property in a simple and easy to understand way. The authors of this guide are business people attempting to explain a complex subject in simple business language and are not accountants or tax specialists. Please read the following points carefully. (1) Please note that this tax guide is intended as general guidance only for individual readers and does NOT constitute accountancy, tax, investment or other professional advice. Neither LME Move nor the author can accept any responsibility or liability for loss which may arise from reliance on information contained in this tax guide. (2) Please note that tax legislation, the law and practices by government and regulatory authorities (e.g. HM Revenue & Customs) are constantly changing. We therefore recommend that for accountancy, tax, investment or other professional advice, you consult a suitably qualified accountant, tax specialist, independent financial adviser, or other professional adviser. Please also note that your personal circumstances may vary from the general examples given in this tax guide and your professional adviser will be able to give specific advice based on your personal circumstances. 10

11 (3) This guide covers UK taxation only and any references to tax or taxation in this tax guide, unless the contrary is expressly stated, are to UK taxation only. Please note that references to the UK do not include the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. Addressing all foreign tax implications is beyond the scope of this guide. Whilst in an effort to be helpful Legal Marketing Experts UK Ltd t/a LME Move and the author have outlined the key concepts of Capital Allowances, neither LME Move or the Author are experts and cannot accept any commercial or financial responsibility/liability for any actions you may take following your reading of this guide. 11

12 Glossary Of Terms Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) These allowances are given at the rate of 100% but capped at the first 250,000 of eligible expenditure that incurred on qualifying plant and machinery or integral features. This rate is applicable for expenditure from 1st January Capital Allowances Capital allowances is the generic title for a suite of tax reliefs available against capital expenditure by a taxpayer, whether as a company and so under corporation tax or as an individual, partnership or off-shore entities, where income tax applies. Some of these allowances relate to patents and know how, but the majority relate to real estate expenditure, whether LIFT Community health, PFI/PPP or pure investment propositions. The key aspect is the cash flow benefit of properly optimising the available capital allowances to enhance the after tax return on investment, and the cash flow advantage of reduced tax payments. Capital Allowances Act 2001 (CAA2001) Whilst depreciation is applicable for UK accounting purposes, at present there is no ability to depreciate assets for tax purposes (tax depreciation). Instead the UK tax regime provides some relief on investment in capital assets through Capital Allowances, which are governed by the Capital Allowances Act 2001 (CAA2001). The legislation enables UK taxpayers to obtain tax relief for expenditure on certain fixed assets. However, they are not always straightforward. There are different forms and rates of allowances available and these can be changed unexpectedly in the annual Budget statement or in new Finance Acts. Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECA s) These are available at a rate of writing down allowances (WDAs) of 100% per annum and so represent a good opportunity to significantly improve cash flow, through appropriate design, specification and procurement considerations. ECAs are restricted to very specific assets that either appear on the relevant Energy Technology List, or Water Technology List, or meet the criteria set out within these lists, where specific assets are not listed. ECAs can also be claimed as a tax credit if the short term position on claiming creates a loss, upon surrender of the loss. This can be particularly relevant to SPV situations where the investment creates a loss in the first few trading periods. For further details of the assets that may qualify, reference should be made to which sets out all the relevant criteria &up to date approved products. 12

13 Industrial Building Allowances (IBA s) For the accounting period ending 31 March 2011, IBAs attracted 1% relief per annum, albeit on the base cost (i.e. structural costs not incorporated in any of the above). Historically these were at 4% for 25 years, giving over time 100% relief on qualifying industrial buildings. The last Government decided to abolish IBAs and began phasing these out in 2008, such that the rates of relief have stepped down from 4%, 3%, 2%, and 1%. After 31 March 2011 they ceased to exist and yielded no further benefit. The nature and specific use of the property is key to determine if IBAs are available. Land Remediation Tax Relief (LRTR) This deals exclusively with qualifying remediation expenditure by companies although, where LLP structures are used, companies that are Partner members may still be able to benefit in respect to their relative share. LRTR attracts tax relief at 50% for trader/developers (100% base cost allowable as a trade expense) or 150% for owners/investors holding assets as capital, whereas no other tax relief typically covers such works. The rules changed significantly from 1st April 2009 to restrict certain natural contaminants but extend the relief to include remediation of long term derelict land. Long Life Assets (LLA s) These also attract relief at 10%, as IFAs, and are held within the Special Rate Pool. The Finance Act 2011 again confirmed a reduction of the WDA rate from 10% to 8% per annum coming in April LLAs as the name implies relate to PMA or IFA asset expenditure, where the asset has an expected useful economic life of 25 years or more. The majority of commercial projects have relatively little or no LLAs and these more typically relate to large industrial or utility type of businesses such as Water Companies or those in the Petrochemical sector. Machinery Individual, or collection of, machines that may have been installed wholly in connection with the occupiers' industrial or commercial processes (a machine is an apparatus used for a specific purpose in connection with the operation of the entity)' - As defined in the RICS Valuation Standards - Global & UK: 7th Edition (referred to as the Red Book). 13

14 Plant Assets that are inextricably combined with others and that may include items that form part of the building services installations specialised buildings, machinery and equipment' - As defined in the RICS Valuation Standards - Global & UK: 7th Edition (referred to as the Red Book). Plant & Machinery Allowances (PMA s) These are available at a rate of writing down allowances (WDAs) of 18% per annum on a reducing balance basis, operating from a General Pool in your tax computation. PMAs are the most common of all capital allowances and will be found, to varying degrees in ALL commercial property as well as in large scale residential schemes? particularly core areas. Again the Finance Act 2011 confirmed reducing these to 18% WDA from 1st /6th April 2012 for Corporation Tax Payers and Income Tax Payers respectively. Research and Development Allowances (RDAs) These allowances are available by virtue of Section 437 CAA2001. The legislation defines expenditure qualifying for 100% relief for research and development activities or provision of facilities for research and development (R&D) activities. The R&D must be in relation to an existing trade or in pursuit of a new trading activity. Although only one such activity can claim the expenditure, as may be relevant? i.e. to prevent double claiming. If the full 100% allowances are not claimed in the year incurred, no subsequent writing down allowances will be available. Writing Down Allowances (WDA s) Introduced as part of the CAA2001, these provide the mechanism for claiming the capital allowances available. They were originally set at 25% per year until April 2008, whereby they were reduced to 20%. 14

15 Frequently Asked Questions Are Capital Allowance Claims a loophole? Capital Allowances are retrospective claims based on the original purchase price. It is not a contentious tax avoidance scheme or loophole but is based on established UK statutory law dating back to Can I claim Capital Allowances? Yes, if you pay UK tax and own the freehold of a commercial property including furnished holiday lets or you have redeveloped a leased property and you have paid for the plant and machinery contained in the property. Does claiming Capital Allowances affect my Capital Gains Tax position when I come to sell my property? No, claiming Capital Allowances does not affect your CGT position. It is a common mistake to think that claiming Capital Allowances will reduce your base cost of the property (what you paid for it) therefore increasing the capital gain (the difference between what you paid for it and what you sell it for) when you come to sell. This is not the case. Has my accountant claimed these allowances already? Your accountant will probably have claimed Capital Allowances for the assets which you have purchased since the original investment. Items such as fire alarm installations, emergency lighting and intruder alarms are examples of these items which your accountant should have claimed for. However, it is a very complex area of taxation requiring specialist surveying and taxation knowledge and it is likely that your Capital Allowances claim has not been maximised. Unless you have had a specific Plant and Machinery survey on your property detailing all of the hidden fixtures, then your accountant will not have identified all of the inherent plant and machinery within your property. How far back can we presently go for unclaimed Capital Allowances? Under the new proposed legislation there is no set time scale for clients wishing to make a capital allowance claim on commercial property they already own so long as the owner continues to hold the property and no other taxpayer has already claimed the allowances. 15

16 I bought my property 10 years ago. Can I still claim? Yes. It is possible to claim capital allowances in any later year?s tax return, as long as the assets are still owned in that later tax year. I don't have sufficient profits to benefit from capital allowances. Should I bother? Yes. In our experience it is always best to identify capital allowances qualifying expenditure promptly. Firstly, you may have other income, or profits elsewhere in a group of companies, that the capital allowances can be set against. And secondly, when you become profitable and have used all your carried forward tax losses, then the capital allowances will be invaluable. Many allowances can also be?disclaimed?, which means identifying and agreeing the amount qualifying for tax relief up-front, but choosing to defer claiming the relief until it is actually needed. However, very many times we have seen businesses short-sightedly failing to claim capital allowances because they are loss-making, and then not claiming in later profitable years when they need the relief. What are Capital Allowances? Capital allowances are a tax relief available when buying, constructing or improving certain types of properties. The relief enables individuals or businesses to deduct the cost of certain types of expenditure from their taxable income, thereby reducing the amount they pay tax on. What can I claim Capital Allowances on? Plant and machinery assets can include fixtures and fittings and items other than the moveable furniture etc. These more integral fixtures can include carpets, air conditioning, swimming pools, sanitary ware, kitchens, heating, emergency lighting and wiring to fixed plant, fire equipment, telecommunication installations, signs and security systems. The list of qualifying items is lengthy. What is a furnished holiday let? A furnished holiday let or FHL is a furnished property located in the UK or EEA (link) that is available for holiday lets on a commercial basis for at least 210 days per year and is actually let for at least 105 days per year. The total periods of longer term occupation, or letting to the same person for more than 31 continuous days, must not exceed 155 days during the year. 16

17 What is commercial property? Commercial property can include shops, offices, warehouses, furnished holiday lets, hotels, restaurants, care homes, public houses, factories or industrial units. Commercial property which is purchased or leased by an individual or business will qualify for capital allowances provided it is not held in a pension fund or owned by a charity. What is the criteria for a valid Capital Allowances claim? They can be claimed by a UK taxpayer (either property owner or tenant) who has incurred capital expenditure on buying, developing, refurbishing or fitting out commercial property. Companies, Individuals or Partnerships and PLC's can claim. The property on which the claim is made must be deemed a commercial development i.e. Retail Units, Warehouses, Care Homes, Hotels, Offices, Restaurants, Pubs & Clubs etc. plus Furnished Holiday Lets which fit certain criteria. Who can't claim Capital Allowances? Charities, Government Bodies, Pension Funds, Property Traders. To discuss making your Capital Allowance Claim contact our expert team today: LME Move Unit 2 Century Park Networkcentre Dearne Lane. Manvers Rotherham. S63 5DE T: E: W: 17

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