A guide to effective investments in equipment for manufacturers

Read on if you and your manufacturing business falls into one of the following categories:
– For manufacturing businesses investing in significant pieces of plant and machinery can be key to driving business growth. This spending can vary from a few thousand pounds to hundreds of thousands of pounds every year.
– You have identified the new piece of equipment your business needs, it’s worth pausing to consider the best way to structure the purchase and tax can play an important role in the determining the best option for your business.
– The tax treatment of capital expenditure can vary wildly depending on the timing and type of purchase.

Buying a new piece of plant and machinery can often be a key business decision, changing the shape of your balance sheet and impacting on productivity and efficiency, which ultimately drives profitability. If you are considering the purchase of a significant new piece of plant, tax planning can play an important part in reducing the long term cost of the investment helping to boost both cash flow and profitability.

Equipment purchasing – what do you need to know

Read this step-by-step guide of what to consider, and find the best tax and cash flow solution for your business and your new machine.

There are a number of ways to fund the acquisition of plant and machinery and some of the key mechanisms are set out below:

Approach Cash flow timing Owned? Interest Tax Considerations
Purchase out of cash Up front cost Yes No Relief based on capital allowances Capital allowances are restricted where business spends more than £200K in total on fixed assets.
HP or asset backed lending Cash impact is spread over period of agreement Effectively yes (once final payment made) Yes – tax deductible Relief based on capital allowances Capital allowances are restricted where business spends more than £200K in total on fixed assets.
Finance lease Cash impact is spread over period of agreement No but entitlement similar to ownership Yes – tax deductible Relief based on accounting depreciation which mirrors term of lease Can result in better cash flow impact. Consider long funding lease rules.
Lease rental Cash impact is spread over period of agreement No remains owned by lease company No interest but lease rental payments have factored in cost of capital Annual relief for lease rentals

On the face of it, the decision may seem simple particularly where a business has surplus cash. However, making the right decision requires strategic thinking with an eye on future plans and cash flow implications especially as indications from the Bank of England are that the cost of borrowing will increase over the next few years.

Should surplus cash be used?

pound coin graphicUsing cash to purchase a new piece of plant or machinery can seem a sensible approach if a business has surplus cash and a positive cash flow cycle. However, securing finance over plant and machinery at the outset is more straightforward and less expensive than seeking bank borrowing at a subsequent date. Before committing cash it can be beneficial to consider medium term funding requirements or whether this could be used strategically to drive profitability in another way for the business e.g. through a strategic acquisition or Research and Development (R&D) activity (don’t forget to claim the valuable tax relief on this) as it may be preferable to retain the cash to use in this manner.

Can we accelerate the tax relief?

Menzies icon of a calculatorTax planning can be a crucial part of the decision process as it impacts significantly on the cash flow so businesses should look to accelerate the tax relief or match it to the cash flows where possible.

Where a business buys or hire purchases it can get tax relief of up to £200,000 of its total equipment expenditure under the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) with the balance being written down at 18% annually. In our experience £200,000 of relief is often not enough for manufacturing businesses due to the cost of machines and peripherals combined with wider business requirements. Furthermore, it can be more tax efficient to use your AIA, against spending on areas such as integral features (e.g. air conditioning), which would otherwise receive tax relief very slowly.

Can we improve the tax position with planning?

Where the spending is likely to exceed the AIA businesses should consider whether there are any techniques to accelerate the relief (e.g. use of equipment in R D) or whether finance lease or lease rental would be preferable as they tend to match the tax relief to the cash flows and the example below shows the potential tax benefit of finance leases where a company has substantial asset spending.

machinery investments

Andrew England - Menzies AccountantBuying a new piece of plant or machinery is a big decision for any business. Once you’ve decided to go ahead with a new purchase it’s worth considering the financing and tax implications as part of your planning. In many circumstances tax relief can be accessed in a way that is positive for cash flow, helping to offset the increased working capital demands that arise from the new purchase and we work with clients to help manage the cash
flow impact of substantial acquisitions.

For further information on any of the points raised, please contact Andrew England on 01372 360130 or email

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted in Blog, Manufacturing