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HMRC internal manual

Capital Allowances Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Plant and Machinery Allowances (PMA): buildings and structures: cases where structure was found to be plant

There have been a few cases in which a structure was found to be plant:

  • CIR v Barclay Curle and Co Ltd 45TC221
  • Cooke v Beach Station Caravans Ltd 49TC514 CA22060
  • Schofield v R & H Hall Ltd 49TC538.


The common feature is that they all involved structures (dry dock, swimming pool and grain silo) rather than buildings.

In each of those cases the structure acted as more than premises or setting. For example, the dry dock in* Barclay Curle *transported the ships to and from the river. There are no UK cases where a building was held to be plant.

In the *Barclay Curle *case the company traded as shipbuilders. It built a dry dock and claimed PMAs on it. The Inspector refused the claim. The case went all the way to the House of Lords who allowed it. The dry dock transported ships to and from the river and so effectively it was apparatus with which the company carried on its trade.

In *Schofield v Hall *a grain silo was found to qualify for PMAs. It distributed the grain it contained and so it functioned as apparatus.

Treat a grain silo as plant where, together with its attendant machinery, it performs a function in distributing the grain so that acts as a transit silo rather than a warehouse.

The cases where a structure was held to be plant show that a building or structure can be plant if and only if it is apparatus for carrying on the business or employed in the business rather than being the premises or place in which the business is carried on.

There was an Australian case (Wangaratta Woollen Mills Ltd v Commissioner of Taxation of the Commonwealth of Australia (1969) 43ALJR324) which you may find people quote against you. In that case a dyehouse, apart from the external walls and roof, was held to be plant. The dyehouse was held to be a complex whole in which every piece was essential for the efficient operation of the whole. What you must remember is that the external walls and roof were held not to be plant and so the building as a whole was not plant.