Be prepared for major changes to company car taxation in 2009


Organisations that run company cars need to understand the cost implications of these changes, which are likely to be considerable in the case of capital allowances and prepare accordingly.

1. Reform of capital allowances and leasing disallowances

Next April’s reform of corporate tax reliefs for company cars is the most profound change in fleet taxation since the Government linked Benefit-in-Kind tax to CO2 emissions in 2001. The new capital allowances system will allow businesses to:

– claim 100% of the value of cars emitting 110g/km CO2 or less in the first year of ownership.

– place company cars emitting between 111g/km and 160g/km of CO2 in a pool where they can deduct 20% of each vehicle’s depreciating value each year from taxable profits.

–         set 10% of the depreciating value of vehicles that emit 161g/km CO2 or more against their profits each year.

Cars sub 160g/km CO2 pool

Unlike the current system for writing-down the value of company vehicles, cars delivered after 1st April 2009 will remain in their CO2 pool after they are disposed-of. For a typical car in the sub 160g/km CO2 pool, around 20% of its original cost will remain in the pool after disposal proceeds are removed, and it will take around 11 years to claim 90% of this balance – or “tail” – against tax.

Cars over 160g/km CO2 pool

For cars in the over-160g/km CO2 pool, which tend to realise proportionally less money on disposal, the tail will be larger and therefore take longer to claim against tax – typically more than 20 years to claim 90% of the balance. The difference in the level of writing-down allowance and the length of the respective tax relief tails will create an increase in car ownership costs at the 160g/km CO2 threshold. At the same time, the Treasury will also change the system of leasing disallowances, which will allow businesses generally to deduct more of their car leasing costs from taxable profits. The current Expensive Car Leasing Disallowance will be abolished and replaced by a Lease Rental Restriction, which will allow businesses to set the

Key changes to Vehicle Excise Duty Bandings and Rates

Cars registered between 1st March 2001 and 23rd March 2006, emitting more than 225 g/km CO2 will be moved into new band K in 2009 and remain there for the duration of 2010. This will allow these drivers to continue to enjoy exemption from the top rate of VED.

Current Vehicle Excise Duty rates for cars registers on or after 1st March 2001

VED band CO2 emissions (g/km) 2008/09*

A Up to 100 £0

B 101-120 £35

C 121-150 £120

D 151-165 £145

E 166-185 £170

F** Over 185 £210

G Over 225 £400

full cost of contract hire rentals against tax in respect of cars under 160g/km CO2, irrespective of the car’s price. At present, only rentals on cars costing less than £12,000 are fully deductible.

For cars above 160g/km CO2, rentals will be deductible except for a flat portion of 15% of the rental, which will be disallowed and therefore remain taxed. Compared with the current sliding scale of leasing disallowances for cars over £12,000, the new system will make it cheaper than at present to lease any car costing more than £17,430 regardless of its CO2 rating.

How will the corporation tax changes affect my fleet?

In general, cars become more attractive to lease than to buy under the new rules, due to the cost benefits offered by the new Lease Rental Restriction. In particular, cars that cost more than £12,000 and emit less than 160g/km of CO2 will be cheaper to acquire on Contract Hire from next April than they are at present. However, there is no “one size fits all” response to this tax reform. Every car policy will need to take account of the interactions between prices, depreciation, CO2 emissions, fuel costs, VED, corporation taxes, National Insurance, your business’s cost of funds and other important factors. Such an analysis will allow you to formulate the most advantageous policy based on a full and carefully considered analysis of the crucial variables.

2. Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)

The pre-Budget report confirms the introduction of new VED bands during 2009. However, it is worth noting that the Government envisages no significant rate changes until 2010, and even then, no driver in any given band shall pay more than £30 extra in that year.

Key dates:

– From April 2009, six new bands of VED will be introduced, taking the total to 13 bands. However, VED rates will not increase by more than £5 for any vehicle during this period.

– From April 2010, in order to create the desired environmental incentive, the Government will start to,separate out the 13 differential banding rates. As a result, cars below 150g/km CO2 will see a real terms VED cut of up to £30. Cars up to 175g/km CO2 will see no real terms increase and cars of 176g/km CO2 and above will see an increase of between £20 to £30.

– Also from April 2010, to “provide a stronger signal to consumers at the point of purchase,” a differential first-year rate for new cars will be introduced (as announced in the 2008 budget). The more polluting cars will see their duty increased by a maximum of £30, (not £90 as originally planned). While the duty levied upon less polluting cars will stay, in most cases, the same or in some instances be reduced.

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