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HMRC internal manual

Capital Allowances Manual

Plant and Machinery Allowances (PMA): meaning of plant and machinery: general approach to claims

The capital allowance legislation does not define plant and machinery. Legislation that says that most buildings, parts of buildings and structures are not plant or machinery was introduced in 1994. It is now in CAA01/S21 & 22.

The exclusions in SS21 & 22 do not, however, apply to the types of expenditure specifically listed in S23 (2) (which include some types of expenditure on buildings). The rules provide that expenditure on the items specified in S23 (2) are to be treated as if they were plant or machinery for capital allowance purposes. The items listed are:

  • Thermal Insulation added to qualifying buildings CA22220;
  • Expenditure on fire safety in certain buildings if incurred before 1 April 2008 (CT) or 6 April 2008 (IT) CA22230;
  • Safety costs at designated sports grounds CA22240;
  • Safety costs at regulated stands at sports grounds CA22250;
  • Safety costs at other sports grounds CA22260;
  • Expenditure on personal safety due to a special threat CA22270;
  • Expenditure on the provision or replacement of integral features CA22300;
  • Computer software CA22280;
  • Films for which an election is made under ITTOIA/S143 or F(No. 2)A/9240D (repealed, by FA06/S178 and para 3(4) of Schedule 26 with effect from 1 January 2007).


In addition, S23 contains a ‘list C’, which lists numerous items that are not affected by the Ss21 & 22 exclusions, see CA22030. These are described further below. Apart from that there is no guidance about the meaning of plant and machinery in the legislation.

The meaning of the word ‘machinery’ should not cause you any problems. Machinery includes machines and the working parts of machines. A machine usually has moving parts. Assets like motor vehicles and lathes are machines. Computers and similar electronic devices are also machinery. You may find machinery in places where you might not expect it. For example, door handles with moving parts are machinery CA21200.

The meaning of the term ‘plant’ can be more difficult. When you get a capital allowance claim you should first check whether the asset is covered by the legislation that says that some assets are plant CA22220 onwards (see the bulleted list above). If it is, accept the CA claim (assuming the other conditions about expenditure, ownership and so on are met).

If it is not, check to see if it is excluded by the legislation that says that most buildings and structures are not plant or machinery. The legislation at CAA01/S21 & S22 prevents most buildings CA22010 and structures CA22020 from being plant. The legislation operates by identifying specific assets that are treated as buildings or structures, detailing the main ones in lists A and B.

You must remember that the legislation does not say that an asset is plant. All it does is say that certain classes of asset are not plant. In Section 23 it lists in list C CA22030 assets that are not affected by the legislation in Sections 21 and 22. This does not necessarily mean that those assets are plant or machinery. Those assets still have to satisfy the normal tests for being plant before PMAs are due. It is important to remember that the legislation does not work by analogy and the items in list C are specific.

If Sections 21 to 23 do not exclude an item and that item is not specifically mentioned in this guidance you should apply the tax case tests that are set out in *Wimpy International Restaurants Ltd v Warland CA21140 *. These tests are:

  • Is the item stock in trade?
  • Is the item the business premises or part of the business premises (the premises test)?
  • Is the item used for carrying on the business (the business use test)?

If the answers are no to the first two and yes to the last the item is plant.