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Understanding Capital Allowances in the UK Tax System

Updated: Oct 16, 2023


What are Capital Allowances?


Capital allowances are reliefs that enable businesses to deduct the cost of certain capital expenditures from their taxable profits or income. These reliefs are essential, providing substantial financial benefits and aiding businesses in navigating their tax landscape smoothly.


Types of Capital Allowances:


1. Annual Investment Allowance (AIA):

AIA lets businesses subtract the full value of a qualifying item from profits before tax in the year of purchase. It predominantly applies to general investments in plant and machinery, excluding cars.


2. First-Year Allowances (FYAs):

FYAs offer enhanced relief on the cost of qualifying capital assets. These are usually available for energy-efficient or environmentally beneficial equipment.


3. Writing Down Allowances (WDAs):

When an asset doesn’t qualify for AIA or FYAs, it might qualify for WDAs, providing relief for the value of items over time.


4. Balancing Allowances and Charges:

These come into play when an asset is sold or disposed of, requiring amendments to the capital allowances claim to rectify any over or under-allowance claimed.


How to Claim Capital Allowances:

Claiming capital allowances involves several key steps:


1. Identify Qualifying Expenditure:

Businesses need to recognise what assets qualify, typically those utilised in the business such as machinery or equipment.


2. Calculate Allowances:

This involves determining the amount that can be claimed based on the type of allowance and asset and potentially allocating the proportion of business use for personally used assets.


3. Submit a Tax Return:

Companies claim capital allowances on the Corporation Tax Return, while sole traders or partnerships do so through Self Assessment returns.


4. Maintain Records:

Maintaining records of assets and expenditures is crucial, including the specifics of purchases and disposals.


5. Seek Professional Advice:

It’s often prudent to consult with a tax advisor or accountant to ensure the correct allowances are claimed on all qualifying expenditures.


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