Will your company qualify for the new “goodwill” relief?

18th April 2019 Nicky Cole
Tax Relief

The 2018 Budget included a proposal to introduce a new relief for intangible assets including goodwill. The new relief will be allowed from April 2019. Will you qualify if you acquired the asset prior to this?

Recap – relief lost for goodwill

Rule changes made in December 2014 and July 2015 saw tax relief for companies on the cost of goodwill attacked twice. The first change blocked relief for goodwill where it was internally generated, i.e. built up by the business rather than purchased from someone else, but only if it was transferred (sold) to the company by someone related to it. The second change scrapped all relief for goodwill with effect from 8 July 2015.

Relief still available

Companies that purchased or created goodwill between 1 April 2002 and 8 July 2015 were entitled to continue to claim relief under the old rules until the value of the goodwill in question was entirely written off. Relief is allowed for the amount shown as an amortisation cost in the company’s accounts or, as an alternative, 4% of the cost per year on a straight-line basis.

Tip. If your company created or purchased goodwill between 1 April 2002 and 8 July 2015, but hasn’t yet claimed a deduction, a claim can still be made in the usual way, i.e. by entering it on the corporation tax (CT) return. If it’s too late to do this you can make a claim using the overpayment relief procedure.

A change of heart

The loss of CT relief for goodwill was widely condemned and smacked of HMRC paranoia over tax avoidance rather than sensible fiscal policy. Therefore, following outside pressure it wasn’t long before CT relief for goodwill was back on the table. Following a consultation in early 2018, the Budget included a measure to reintroduce it and draft legislation is included in the Finance Bill 2019 .

The new goodwill relief

The new relief will be in the form of a fixed rate writing down allowance for goodwill (and other customer-related intangible assets) created or acquired by companies on or after 1 April 2019. Originally, following HMRC’s consultation, the proposal was to reinstate the old amortisation/4% relief. However, the draft legislation allows for a fixed rate annual allowance of 6.5% of the cost, which will apply subject to conditions.

Conditions and small print

The new relief will only be available where the asset is acquired as part of the purchase of a business which includes other qualifying intellectual property (IP) such as patents, registered designs, copyright, design rights and plant breeders’ rights. The relief will also be capped at six times the expenditure incurred on the qualifying IP assets.

Old and new

The new relief will only apply to goodwill acquired on or after 1 April 2019. Therefore, if you’re claiming relief for goodwill acquired under the pre-2014 and 2015 changes, you can continue to do so. But if you weren’t entitled to relief, this won’t change because of the new rules.

Relief under old rules can still be claimed for goodwill acquired prior to 8 July 2015. The new rules will only allow relief on goodwill acquired on or after 1 April 2019 and then only where it’s purchased along with other intellectual property, e.g. patents and copyright.

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