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Capital Allowances - don’t elect out of your entitlement

When commercial property is acquired, capital allowances may be claimed on the part of the purchase price attributable to plant and machinery, whether fixtures or moveable chattels.
Historically the way of ascertaining the amount to be allocated to plant, a “just and reasonable apportionment”, involved a specialist valuation of the various components of a purchase (land, building and plant) relating the results to the actual price paid.

The amount claimable on this basis is generally higher than buyers expectation.
However, in 1997 an alternative procedure was introduced under which the buyer and seller could jointly elect to set a figure to be treated by both parties as the disposal sale proceeds and purchase price for the fixtures. This figure is binding on HMRC and any subsequent purchaser of the property.

The main problem with the election is that it tends to benefit one party over the other.

It is generally better for the seller to put a low value in the contract – the historical allowances over this figure are then retained by him. This means that the buyer then has minimal allowances. Conversely, the buyer wants as high a figure as possible while this may have tax implications for the seller. The only answer is to negotiate – and probably compromise.

The key thing though is to understand what you are being asked to sign and to know what previous owners have signed too.



Date: 16th May, 2008
Author: Cathy Corns


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