Mastering your business expenses

May 6, 2024

Both capital allowances and allowable expenses are deductions that businesses can claim to reduce their taxable profits. However, they apply to different types of spending.


What are Capital Allowances?

Capital allowances offer a method for gaining tax relief on tangible capital expenditure, enabling it to be deducted from a company’s pre-tax income. This relief can be immediate or spread over several years, depending on the type of asset and applicable allowance. Typically, capital expenditure involves the acquisition of long-term business assets, such as machinery, business vehicles, and equipment.

These allowances are determined based on assets deemed capital in nature, meaning they benefit the business over multiple years, rather than being consumed within the year of purchase.


Claiming Capital Allowances

To claim capital allowances, you must first identify which assets qualify. Generally, the asset must be used for business purposes, and there are specific rules regarding what constitutes qualifying expenditure. Once identified, calculate the appropriate allowance using the relevant rates and include this in your business’s tax return.

It’s important to keep detailed records of the assets purchased, including invoices and dates of purchase, to support your claim.


What are allowable expenses?

According to HMRC, allowable expenses are costs incurred wholly, exclusively, and necessarily in the running of a business. These expenses can be deducted from a firm’s revenue to calculate its taxable profit. Essentially, for an expense to be allowable, it must be incurred in the direct course of the business operations.

Some of the common categories of allowable business expenses include:

  • Office costs – such as stationery or phone bills
  • Travel – including fuel, parking, train and bus fares for business trips
  • Clothing – uniforms, protective workwear, etc.
  • Staffing costs – such as employee salaries or subcontractor wages
  • Items you buy to sell on – including stock or raw materials
  • Financial costs – including insurance or bank charges
  • Costs of your business premises – such as heating and lighting bills, and business rates
  • Advertising and marketing – such as website costs or marketing fees
  • Training courses – for improving skills or professional development.

Key Differences


Nature of expenditure:

  • Capital allowances are claimed on long-term assets.
  • Allowable expenses are for day-to-day operational costs.


Tax treatment:

  • Capital allowances are spread over the useful life of the asset, providing tax relief over several years.
  • Allowable expenses are deducted in the year they are incurred, providing immediate tax relief.


Types of costs:

  • Examples of capital allowances include machinery, business vehicles, and equipment.
  • Examples of allowable expenses include rent, salaries, and utility bills.


Mastering business expenses is a critical aspect of financial management for UK businesses, essential for ensuring tax efficiency and compliance. By understanding what constitutes an allowable expense, effectively tracking and managing these expenses, and navigating the complexities of tax relief and refunds, businesses can safeguard their financial health.

Remember, mastering business expenses isn’t just about staying within budget; it’s about making strategic decisions that enhance your overall financial performance.


Need assistance? Contact us and we can steer you towards financial success, ensuring that every pound spent contributes positively to your business’s objectives.


Related Services:

Audit Services

Strategic Planning

Corporate Tax



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