Invest now and reap the reward

With the general election just around the corner, there’s an element of uncertainty over how the tax regime will change. It’s possible that now may be an excellent time for businesses to make investments in fixed assets. In their Green... Read more

Blog31st Mar 2015

By Sarah Munro

With the general election just around the corner, there’s an element of uncertainty over how the tax regime will change. It’s possible that now may be an excellent time for businesses to make investments in fixed assets.

In their Green Budget published earlier in 2015, the Institute for Fiscal Studies analysed the growth in overall tax take following general elections. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the think-tank found that there was a strong tendency for taxes to be hiked in the period following the poll.

One area which may come under scrutiny when a new government is formed in May is the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA), which gives qualifying businesses 100% tax relief on the purchase of qualifying fixed assets. The allowance covers most items of capital expenditure although two notable exceptions are building structures and cars.

The AIA is an allowance which has never been so good, as the cap is currently at £500,000 – a figure many small businesses are unlikely ever to approach and which offers a lot of scope for larger enterprises too.

The policy is understandable in the aftermath of the recession, as it’s an excellent way of stimulating investment and boosting the wider economy. But the increase is only temporary and is due to expire in December 2015. The Chancellor announced in his Budget speech, delivered on 18 March 2015, that it “would not be remotely acceptable” for the AIA to reduce to the previous limit of £25,000 and that a new limit will be set at “a much more generous rate”.

This leaves business owners with uncertainty as to the level of revised AIA commencing January 2016. The Chancellor indicated a better time to address this relief will be in the Autumn Statement. So we are all left waiting…

The UK economy is generally a lot stronger now than two or three years ago. It’s a time when investment is on a lot of people’s agendas. My strong suggestion is that if you are considering making capital investments in the near future, it might be best to move ahead now, while you can maximise your tax advantage within the published regime.

You may be one of the many business people who is familiar with the idea of the AIA, but not necessarily keeping a close track of the changes in the cap rate. If so, it’s time to talk to your professional adviser about getting the most out of your allowances while the rules are stacked in your favour.

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