The system for taxing those who use company cars has seen annual incremental increases in the cost of benefits, while maintaining the basic approach to taxing those who use a company owned vehicle. The basis of the charge is to tax a figure calculated by multiplying the car's list price by an emission-based percentage, with a 3% surcharge on diesel powered cars until 2016.
Cars emitting CO2 at a specified level are taxed on rates varying from 5% to 35% of the list price. Emissions for petrol driven cars from 1 to 75 g/km are taxed at 5% and from 76-94g/km, at 10% of list price.
Cars running solely on diesel fuel are currently subject to a 3% supplement. Special rules apply to cars running on electricity. Employees and directors who are provided with a company car that is propelled solely by electricity will not have to pay tax on the benefit until 2015.
Cars with higher levels of CO2 emission are taxed on a graduated scale rising to a maximum (for both petrol and diesel) of 35% of the car's price. The detailed figures are shown in our taxable benefits table. These figures apply to all company cars, including second cars.
CO2 emission information
For all cars first registered from at least November 2000, the definitive CO2 emissions figure for tax purposes will be recorded on the Vehicle Registration Document (V5). Under an agreement with HM Revenue & Customs, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is providing a CO2 emissions enquiry service on their website at www.smmt.co.uk for cars first registered from January 1998.
Cars first registered before January 1998, for which there are no reliable CO2 emissions data, are taxed according to their engine size, as follows:
Engine size (cc)
Percentage of car's price charged to tax
0 - 1400
1401 - 2000
2001 and more
Fuel scale charges
Where the employer pays for any fuel used privately by the employee, there is an additional scale charge based on the CO2 - based car benefit percentage applied to a standard value of £21,100.
Where the employee is required, as a condition of the car being made available, to pay for the private use of a car, the value of the benefit is reduced accordingly (on a pound for pound basis). Capital contributions of up to £5,000 made by employees towards the cost of the car and/or accessories, when the car is first made available, will reduce its list price for tax purposes.
By contrast it is ‘all or nothing' for the fuel scale charge, which remains at the full value unless the employee pays for all private fuel!
HM Revenue & Customs has published advisory fuel only rates which will be accepted either for employers reimbursing employees for the cost of fuel for business mileage, or for employees reimbursing employers for the cost of fuel for private mileage in a company car. Alternative rates may be negotiated, for example when it is necessary for the performance of his or her duties that an employee uses a four-wheel drive vehicle. In this instance a higher rate per mile might be agreed due to the typically higher fuel consumption
Current mileage rates
1 March 2013
These mileage rates came into force officially on 1 March 2013.
Advisory fuel only mileage rates
Rates per mile
Up to 1400cc
1401cc - 2000cc
1600cc or less
These standard charges are subject to income tax at the basic, higher or additional rate (depending on the employee's rate of pay). The tax is usually collected under the PAYE system by appropriate adjustment of the employee's tax code.
For the benefit to be attractive, the employee must pay less in extra tax than it would cost them to run their own car out of their taxed income. These are examples of the 2012/14 tax costs to an employee of a company car:
The provision of a car parking space at or near the employee's place of work is not an assessable benefit.
There is no tax for using a pool car. This is one where private use is merely incidental to the business use, and it is not normally used by one employee to the exclusion of all others.
Please note: A pool car must not normally be kept overnight at or near an employee's home.
"Lower Paid" Employees
The provision of a car for an employee (NOT a director) who is paid at a rate below £8,500 per year (including the value of benefits) does NOT attract any charge to income tax. Nor is there any charge on fuel for private use provided to such employees.
Special Consideration for Sole Traders
If your spouse is employed in your business (but not as a partner), it can be very tax efficient to provide them with a car, as long as they earn well below £8,500. The use of the car can be tax-free in their hands, and the business will get full tax relief on all the expenses connected with the car, provided you can demonstrate the car is necessary for business purposes.
Note that all benefits and salaries to a spouse must be justifiable. In other words, the remuneration must be at the same level that would have been paid to a non-spouse who did the same work.
Business use of an employee's own car
It is quite normal practice for employees to be reimbursed at a reasonable mileage rate for business use of their own cars.
A statutory system of tax and national insurance free mileage rates applies for business journeys in employees' own vehicles, as follows:
Cars and vans
On the first 10,000 miles in the tax year
45p per mile
On each additional mile above this
25p per mile
24p per mile
20p per mile
It is no longer possible to make a claim for tax relief based on actual receipted bills, nor claim capital allowances or interest on loans related to car purchases.
Note that the lower rate for more than 10,000 business miles only applies to income tax. The national insurance rate remains at 45p for any number of miles.
Unless the employee is reimbursed at a rate higher than the statutory mileage rate, the payments do not need to be reported on a P11D.
When an employee travelling on business carries fellow employees as passengers he may be reimbursed a further 5p per passenger tax free provided the journey is a business journey in respect of the passengers. No claim can be made if the employer does not make passenger payments.
The taxable benefit for the unrestricted use of company vans is £3,000 (with no reduction for older vans) plus a further £550 of taxable benefit if fuel is provided by the employer for private travel.
The tax payable on the use of a company van ranges from £600 up to £1,775 p.a., and the employer's Class1A NIC payable ranges from £414 to £489.90 p.a.