Claiming a tax deduction for a website

You and a friend have decided to start an online business. Because you are spending £1,000’s on developing a website  you want to know the rules when claiming a tax deduction for a website.

tax deduction for a website

Your friend thinks these expenses may be classed as capital so you won't be able to claim an immediate tax deduction for a website.

So how do you claim a tax deduction for a website?

The taxman considers websites to be similar to a shop window – they put your business on display to potential customers.

HMRC used to consider that like the cost of a shop window, website development is not everyday expenditure but a one-off capital cost. This type of expenditure is only usually allowable where it qualifies for capital allowances

To qualify for capital allowances, whatever you have spent money on must perform a function in your business.

Because a display is not a function this would mean that no tax deduction for website costs may have been allowed previously.

HMRC’s current view on claiming a tax deduction for a website

Most websites these days offer customers a method of ordering goods or services, communicating with their business and finding out detailed information on products or services. All of these are clearly functions and so HMRC now accept that certain website costs will qualify for capital allowances as ‘plant and machinery’.

Typically the expenditure which falls into this category as ‘plant and machinery’ is as a follows:

  • Purchase of a domain name
  • Hardware relating to the functionality of the website
  • Operating software relating to the functionality of the website

Because this form of expenditure is treated as plant and machinery, capital allowances can be claimed as part of the annual investment allowance (AIA for short).  This means a tax deduction of up to £200,000 can be claimed for the financial year in which you incurred the expense.

Development costs for a replacement website for your business (even with the same domain name) may also be treated as expenditure qualifying for capital allowances.

Websites costs that aren’t treated as capital allowances

Any expenditure which relates to ongoing website maintenance (for example updating content, changing product details and pricing) is deducted from your profits just like any other day to day running costs.

Some expenditure is difficult to categorise – for example initial research before proceeding with the development/redevelopment of your website. However, HMRC generally accept that this expenditure qualifies as a tax deduction from your business profits.

Where your website is used just to advertise your business, again HMRC will allow these costs as a tax-deductible expense in your profit and loss account.

Finally, because the bookkeeping/accounting and tax treatment differs for website expenditure, it’s important you keep a detailed breakdown of costs so these can be allocated correctly for tax purposes.

For more useful information, check out our Ebooks here.

And if you'd like to know how we can help you with all of this, or with anything else, feel free to give us a call on 01202 048696 or email us at richard@tfaaccountants.co.uk.

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