The soft fruit industry has accused HMRC of failing to give enough tax relief to growers after the body issued new guidance on the taxable status of polytunnels.

Following discussions with the NFU, NFU Scotland and British Summer Fruits, HMRC clarified before Christmas that some polytunnels could fall outside the definition of ‘fixed structures’ and ‘premises/setting’, and could therefore qualify for capital allowances.

However, this would not be the case for all polytunnels, and the HMRC said it would decide if tunnels should be considered fixed structures on a case-by case basis.

The NFU said this was disappointing and confusing. “As the guidance does not provide certainty on the tax treatment for growers, we will continue to discuss it with HMRC,” head of tax, Michael Parker, said.

Soft fruit grower Anthony Snell, of AJ & CI Snell Fruit Producers, claimed capital allowances were vital to growers’ businesses, especially in light of last year’s bad weather.

“Without these vital structures in the inclement weather of 2012, we would have had absolutely no industry,” he said.