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24th May 2021

The 2020/21 tax year has brought exciting news for those looking into purchasing a company car, and 2021/22 are not far behind in good news if you are after an electric car for your contracting business. But how much tax do you as an employee need to pay after receiving this benefit and why? Also, can you, as a limited company contractor benefit from using a company car? We will explore these questions and answer them in this guide.

What is the company car tax?

If you are driving a car provided by your employer and it is available for you to use outside work, it is viewed as a taxable benefit. HMRC attaches a monetary value to the private use of the vehicle and collects tax on it; this is what we know officially as Benefit in Kind (BIK) tax.

Electric cars were tax-free in 2020/21, so how about 2021/22?

Mr Musk (owner of Tesla Motors) has been happily rubbing his hands together since last year and he can continue to do so in 2021/22. If you ever wanted a Tesla it is still the time to get it (other electric cars are available)! The benefit in kind tax rate has gone from 16% in 2019/20 to 0% 2020/21 and going up to only 1% in 2021/22.

There are two separate BIK tables for 2020/21, one for those driving a car registered after 6th April 2020, and one for those that drive a vehicle registered before that date.

Electric vehicles registered after the 6th April 2020 will fall into the 1% rate in 2021/22 and 2% in 2020/23. The 1% rate will also cover electric vehicles registered before the 6th April 2020 plus hybrids that emit less than 50g/km CO2 and have an electric range of at least 130 miles.

How does company car tax gets calculated?

This will look complicated but bear with us.

Calculation of the tax is based on CO2 emissions of the specific car provided, which was the Government’s way of encouraging companies to purchase more environmentally friendly vehicles.

This sounds simple enough, but that’s not the end of it. There are other (just a few) factors that also affect the amount you pay:

  • The list price (P11D value) of the car before non-taxable items (e.g. road tax) and after optional extras
  • The tax rate you are in (20%, 40% or 45%) based on your annual income
  • The type of fuel the car runs on

The easiest way to work out the tax you pay is by using HMRC’s own car tax calculator, which will ask for all of the above details, plus any tax-reducing facts like your contribution to the initial cost of the vehicle and the percentage of use.

Here is a calculation example in three steps:

  1. Determine the car’s list price (P11D value) – let’s take a C-Class Saloon C 300 d AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus with a list price of £45,785
  2. Multiply this value by the company car tax rate – based on its CO2 emissions figure of 157 g/km our car falls in the 35% bracket, so list price x 35% = £16,025, which is the BIK value
  3. Multiply the BIK value by your personal tax rate of either 20, 40 or 45% to get the amount payable. If you are a higher rate taxpayer, this will be £16,025 x 40% = £6,410

Electric vs Diesel vs Hybrid

Ok, so we are familiar with the calculation method, so let’s compare a similarly priced diesel car to a hybrid and an electric one (all with assumed 0% capital contribution or employee payment towards the car):

 Tesla Model 3 Long Range AWD (electric)
Mercedes Benz C-Class C 300 d AMG Line (diesel)
Mercedes Benz C-Class C 300 e EQ Power AMG Line (petrol plug-in hybrid)
Tax Year
2021/22
2022/232023/242021/22
2022/23
2023/242021/22
2022/23
2023/24
P11D value (list price)
£48,435£48,435£48,435£45,785£45,785£45,785£47,309
£47,309
£47,309
Percentage charge
1%
2%
2%
35%
36%
36%
11%
12%
12%
Benefit in kind value
£484£969£969£16,025£16,483£16,483£5,204£5,677£5,677
Tax payable
at 20%
£97£194£194£3,205£3,297£3,297£1,041£1,135£1,135
Tax payable at
40%
£194£387£387£6,410£6,593£6,593£2,082£2,271£2,271

Petrol vs Diesel

The tax bill on diesel cars will typically be more expensive (there is a four per cent surcharge) as they pollute more than their petrol counterparts. When you look at cars, keep this in mind and see if you cover enough miles to recover the additional cost in fuel savings over a petrol engine car.

What about hybrid cars?

Because of their lower CO2 emissions, hybrid cars make a great alternative or a stop-gap between buying fossil fuel-powered cars and fully electric ones. These vehicles will fall into a lower car tax band.

For example, a hybrid version of the above C Class Mercedes will fall into an 11% car tax rate versus 30% for the diesel-only version; however, it is more expensive to purchase.

So should you replace your fossil fuel burning car then?

If your company can afford it, we think yes. You will be kinder to the environment, and you won’t have to worry about the running cost (they are a lot lower for an electric car). It’s a win-win really.

Remember, however, that the owner of the car will be the company, so if you decide to close down your business it will either have to be sold or bought by yourself if you wanted to keep it. We recommend talking to your accountant before making a decision.

If you have questions, please give us a call on 0800 917 9100 or send an e-mail to info@myaccountant.co.uk. For more useful guides, remember to follow us on  LinkedInFacebook or Twitter.

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