Most commonly, section 11(e) provides for a deduction equal to the amount by which the value of any machinery, plant, implements, utensils and articles have diminished by reason of wear and tear during the tax year. Typically, these assets must be owned by the taxpayer, or must be in the process of being acquired. Where an asset was acquired during the year, the allowance provided for in section 11(e) is proportionally reduced according to the period of use during the year.
There are however various other specific asset allowances which may rather regulate whether a wear and tear allowance is available for tax purposes, depending on the nature of the specific asset or which specific industry the taxpayer operates in. Should the relevant requirements for these provisions rather be applicable, the section 11(e) allowance will not apply.
For example, section 12B provides for an accelerated allowance (generally split over three years on a 50/30/20 ratio) for certain plant, equipment and machinery used for farming purposes, the production of renewable energy such as bio-diesel or bio-ethanol products or the generation of electricity from wind, sunlight, etc. Section 12C again provides for a tax allowance in respect of assets used for manufacturing, co-operatives, hotels, ships and aircraft. Section 12E allows for a 100% write off of the cost of plant and machinery brought into use by a “small business corporation” in certain circumstances. Other (maybe lesser known) tax allowances include section 12F (providing for an allowance for qualifying airport and port assets) and section 12I (an additional investment and training allowance in respect of industrial policy projects). There are also various provisions in the Income Tax Act providing specifically for an allowance against which the value of buildings owned by a taxpayer and used for purposes of trade can be written down for tax purposes.
It is important to note that each of these provisions has very specific requirements regarding the type of qualifying assets that could potentially qualify for the allowance. This includes whether or not the specific asset is new and unused and if any improvements to the qualifying assets may also be taken into account. Other important considerations include who the relevant taxpayer is, when the asset was brought into use by that taxpayer for the first time and the costs to be taken into account in calculating the relevant allowance.
The take away is that taxpayers must continuously evaluate their asset registers to confirm that all assets are correctly classified for income tax purposes and that the correct tax allowances are claimed in respect of these assets. The most important consideration of all though is to ensure that available allowances provided for in the Income Tax Act are utilised where appropriate to do so.
 No. 58 of 1962
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)