Q. I lost my job during the pandemic and intend to set up an arts and crafts shop. I will be incurring some expenses before I can open including the cost of setting up a website, buying business cards, equipment and stock, paying two months’ rent in advance and insurance. I purchased a computer and printer five years ago and although it is now deemed to be ‘ancient’ in computer terms, it still works and I want to use it in my business as well as for home use. What expenses can I claim?
A: The tax rules state that expenses incurred before the start of the business (termed ‘pre-trading expenditure’) can be claimed:
- if incurred within seven years of the start of the trade;
- if they would have been allowed as a deduction had the expenditure been incurred after commencement;
- if they are not otherwise deductible in computing profits
For assets acquired specifically for the new trade, ‘pre trading expenditure’ is treated as if incurred on the first day of trading. Assets acquired initially for private use that are also going to be used in the business (such as the computer and printer) are also treated as if purchased on the first day of trading. Importantly, the amount that can be claimed is not the cost but the market value on the first day of trading (unless, exceptionally, the market value on the first day of trading is greater than the cost, in which case the cost figure is used). Where assets will be used for both private and business purposes, the claim is restricted to take account of the private use.
If you are also registering for VAT, then you can reclaim the VAT on goods, stock and assets for up to 3 years before registration; VAT on services can be claimed for up to 6 months prior to registration.