Business Premises Renovation Allowance (BPRA) Case Summary: Senex Investments Ltd v Revenue & Customs 
Release Date: 04 March 2015
Whether a former church is a qualifying building for the purposes of BPRA.
The FTT found that church was a qualifying building for BPRA as it had last been used as a “trade, profession or vocation” under s360C Capital Allowances Act 2001.
Senex Investments is a limited company that invests in property. In 2010 they purchased a former church that had been empty for a number of years. They incurred expenditure converting the property to a restaurant. BPRA was claimed on this expenditure on advice of their accountants.
HMRC refused the claim for BPRA on the basis that the premises had not last been used as a qualifying building. The last occupier was a non-profit making entity.
Under s360C Capital Allowances Act 2001 a qualifying building for BPRA is “Any building or structure, or part of a building or structure, which –
(c) had last been used –
(i) for the purposes of a trade, profession or vocation, or
(ii) as an office of offices (whether or not for the purposes of a trade, profession or vocation)”
Senex argued the church met this definition as the church was run as a business who needed to cover their expenses and also present their accounts yearly. They also separately argued that the vestry was last used as an office.
HMRC argued a non-profit making entity only would only be in the definition of a trade if its activities go beyond what is normal and reasonable for it to do. They also did not accept the evidence provided that the vestry was last used as an office.
HMRC also said Senex’s claim for BPRA went against the intention of Parliament for BPRA. Arguing the intention was for unused shops and business premises.
The FTT found the church was “a qualifying building and had last been used for the purposes of a trade, profession or vocation.” It also found the Vestry was used as an office.
It was held that a non-profit making entity still needs to meet it costs causing it to be run on business lines, this does not have to be done with a view to realising a profit.
The FTT also believe Senex met what Parliament sought to achieve with BPRA by regenerating a property in a deprived area.
What this means
Scope of BPRA is wider than what HMRC considered. Courts may take a wider view than HMRC’s narrow interpretation.