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Beyond the balance sheet

How to save on company car tax during COVID-19 furlough

Christina Nawrocki 07/5/2020 3 minute read

Christina Nawrocki FCCA shares how furloughed directors and employees can save money by returning company cars to employers, and HMRC's exceptions to the rules during COVID-19.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a toll on the UK economy, businesses are looking for ways to survive, making the idea of furloughing employees more prevalent.

With experts estimating that up to 11 million people are expected to be furloughed by the end of lockdown, more individuals will be relying on 80% of their salary provided through the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to support their household leaving them with the task of finding new ways to save.

Furloughed directors and employees with a company car sat parked up with no where to go could save thousands of pounds in tax by giving it back to their employer.

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Around a million cars and vans are made available by employers for their staff as part of their annual remuneration package. Whilst company cars are usually deemed a perk, it does come at a cost in the form of a “taxable benefit" when a vehicle is made available for private journeys.

The amount owed on company vehicles depends on a range of factors, including the cost of the car and the vehicle’s carbon emissions and can run into the thousands of pounds. Where the car is electric this is currently not the case, hence why many businesses are looking to expand their fleet with electric vehicles as the potential savings are quickly being realised.

 

To benefit from this tax planning opportunity the vehicle must be;

  • Unavailable for 30 consecutive days or more
  • Kept at the employers premises; however, this is where we are seeing some flexibility in HMRC's approach during COVID-19. Returning the keys to the employer (with documentation if possible) will be accepted as making the vehicle ‘unavailable’.

A spokesman for HMRC said:Company Car Furlough HMRC

It’s important that you maintain proof that the car is unavailable to satisfy HMRC's requirements. While possession of the key is one way, some employers may wish to establish a document substantiating that the company car availability is to be suspended or cancelled for a temporary amount of time thereby not allowing furloughed employees to use the vehicle. This would be agreed by both employer and employee.

This company car tax planning approach should be relatively quick to implement and can prove to be quite a substantial savings particularly for those that are a higher rate tax payer.

With uncertainties surrounding the length of lockdown and social distancing measures in place which will continue to affect businesses across the UK, many people will be facing tough financial times ahead for the foreseeable future and this is a good, proactive tax planning measure that should be considered.

If you have any questions regarding tax savings advice for those with company cars while on furlough please get in touch with a Wellers advisor.

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The content of this post was created on 04/05/2020.

Please be aware that information provided by this blog is subject to regular legal and regulatory change. We recommend that you do not take any information held within our website or guides (eBooks) as a definitive guide to the law on the relevant matter being discussed. We suggest your course of action should be to seek legal or professional advice where necessary rather than relying on the content supplied by the author(s) of this blog.

 

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