International accountant and shipping adviser Moore Stephens says the UK Budget 2013 contains generally good news for the shipping sector.
Measures which will have an impact on the shipping industry include a reduction in the main rate of UK corporation tax. This is 23 per cent for the year ended 31 March 2014, reducing to 21 per cent from April 2014. A further reduction to 20 per cent from April 2015 has now been announced.
There was also good news for shipping on the capital gains front. Last year the government announced that, where a company had a functional currency other than sterling, capital gains and losses on disposals of shares would with effect from April 2013 be calculated in that functional currency rather than in sterling. Moore Stephens tax partner Sue Bill says, “Now, following representations by Moore Stephens and others, it has been announced that this measure has been extended to cover the disposal of ships and aircraft as well as shares, thus removing an anomaly in the calculation of capital gains and losses arising on ships outside the UK tonnage tax regime.
“Where ships are held outside the UK tonnage tax regime, capital allowances (or tax depreciation) are available in respect of the capital cost of the ship. For many years, no first-year allowances (being accelerated capital allowances available in the year of acquisition) have been available in respect of ships. This exclusion from claiming first-year allowances has now been removed for ships and railway assets. This, however, may be of limited benefit as first-year allowances are currently only available in respect of a limited number of assets, in particular energy-efficient and environmentally beneficial plant and machinery of a description specified by Treasury order, which can qualify for 100 per cent allowances in the first year. Therefore it is not yet clear how beneficial the removal of this anomaly will be in practice.”
Sue Bill concludes, “The Budget 2013 is generally good news for the shipping sector as the UK government is clearly looking to ensure that the UK tax system is as competitive as possible, and certain anomalies having a potentially detrimental effect for some shipowning companies have been removed.”