Raymond Yeung Tax Consultant former Assessor of Inland Revenue Department 前稅局評稅主任楊輝洪

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Depreciation allowance - Meaning of plant and machinery

No definition of plant or machinery is given in Inland Revenue Ordinance. In practice, the term “machinery” seldom gives rise to disputes. However, there are a number of cases involving the question “what is a plant?”. 

In an old UK case, which is not a Revenue case, called Yarmouth versus France, “plant” was said to mean: “whatever apparatus is used by a business man for carrying on his business, not his stock-in-trade which he buys or makes for sale; but all goods and chattels, fixed or movable, live or dead, which he keeps for permanent employment in his business”. This is obvious a very wide definition and has not normally been adopted for revenue purpose. 

In deciding what is a plant, it is necessary to look at the characteristics and purposes of the asset created by that expenditure. This is often called the “functional test”--- that is to ask whether the asset is part of the apparatus with which the business is carried on. 

A "plant" is frequently distinguished from an "building or structure" --- the former is an "asset" that can be detached from the "building" --- the latter is part of the premises or setting in which the business is carried on. 

In practice, electrical fitting which is not part of the building or structure and is removable can qualify as a plant. 

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