Expand in a disadvantaged area and you could receive a tax break

Hayhow & Co

If you’re looking for new premises, it’s worth widening your range of options.  By choosing to renovate a derelict building in a disadvantaged area, you could benefit from a significant tax break.

Not many people are aware of the Business Premises Renovation Allowance (BPRA), but it’s certainly worth finding out more if you’re in the market for a new office, factory or business site.

When you buy a derelict building, you’d obviously need to undertake renovations to ensure it’s in a usable state. When you do, it’s not deemed to be a ‘repair’ for tax purposes, but is seen instead as a capital cost. Tax relief against profits are minimal (possibly related to integral features, such as electrics and plumbing).

With BPRA, you can claim upfront tax relief for the costs of renovation if (a) the property is in a disadvantaged area; (b) the building has been unused for at least a year; and (c) the premises were previously used for commercial purposes rather than as residences.

It’s worth making a couple of points of clarification on these criteria. First, it’s possible to discover whether your proposed property is in an area considered to be disadvantaged by using a postcode checker on the Department for Business Innovation & Skills website. Second, the requirement for a property to be unused for a year doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be unused at the time of purchase. Provided a year elapses before any work starts, you can still qualify for BPRA.

As you might expect, the preferential tax arrangements are designed to stimulate business and help to regenerate areas that have previously been struggling. Under EU state aid legislation, costs of renovation are restricted to €20 million, although obviously many businesses will be making investments well within this figure.

It’s important to note that there’s no allowance for the cost of the land or for extending the premises, although you do get a 100% write-off for tax purposes on the other renovations. What’s more, it won’t be clawed back as long as you don’t sell the building within five years from the date it became available for use.

This relief is only available until 2017, so it’s important to think now about how you might take advantage of it in the next couple of years. It’s a specialist area, so ensure that you take the necessary advice from your accountant.

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