is it time for an electric company car

Has the time come to have an electric company car?

With petrol prices at levels not seen before, even during previous oil and global crises, it comes as no surprise that the economics of owning an electric car are improving. But are there any other HMRC incentives that may ease the costs of purchase that individuals and company employees can consider in their calculations? It turns out that there are.

IsWhile this article will focus on the business considerations of electric vehicles, for the time being, it should be noted that the government is also offering purchase incentives to private individuals on new electric vehicles.

Price of electric vehicles are coming down and choices are expanding

Over the past couple of years we’ve seen the growing introduction of a range of electric cars, e-cars. New models and even completely new new manufacturers have appeared alongside new electrified versions from the well known car manufacturer brands. Until now they’ve been expensive to buy compared to their petrol drinking cousins. Although they still are comparatively expensive, they are getting cheaper as the technology matures, economies of scale improve and competition increases.

The government has for the past year offered favourable tax treatment on electric vehicles purchased for business use. This is set to continue, albeit at slightly reduced levels, but with other favourable market conditions factoring in, the company car is now an interesting prospect once again.

Tax in Benefits in Kind for company electric cars

  • 2021/22: 0%
  • 2022/23: 1%
  • 2023/24: 2%

 

Considerations when buying an electric car

Should I buy a new or used electric vehicle for business use?

Most of the benefit for a business buying an electric vehicle is achieved by buying a new vehicle. New electric vehicles qualify for 100% first year allowance (FYA). That means you can deduct the full cost of the vehicle purchase price from your profits - potentially a significant tax saving.

Buying second hand can still be advantageous, but the cost won’t receive the same FYA benefit. Currently, you’ll be able to claim 18% of the purchase price.

Can my business claim for electric vehicle charging points and electricity?

This is an interesting one. A business can claim a 100% first year allowance for installing new charging points at or close to an employee's place of work. This incentive is currently available until March 31 2023.

How a business chooses to let the employee use the charging point is also interesting.

Charging an electric vehicle at the place of work - private or company owned.

Currently, there is no chargeable benefit to an employee if the company allows them to recharge their own vehicle (private use) at their place of work. This is because electricity isn’t considered a fuel. If it were, simply charging your phone or a laptop might be a chargeable benefit. This is a similar treatment to that of tax free car parking. Naturally, an employee cannot claim for recharging their personal vehicle from other locations, such as a service station.

Charging at third party charging points

Similarly, if an employer pays for the cost of charging a company owned electric vehicle at other locations, there is no chargeable benefit, again because electricity is not considered a fuel.

If an employee pays to recharge a company vehicle from a third party source such as at home or a service station charging point, they can make a claim of 4p per mile.

Can I lease an electric vehicle and claim similar benefits?

Yes, but there are a couple of points to note here. The type of contract is important. Only operational lease contracts are able to qualify for full relief on rental payments. Operating leases differ from the other type of lease - typically a personal contract purchase (PCP), in that once the operational contract ends, the vehicle concerned is simply returned to the lease company. In short, there’s no ownership.

Can I claim back VAT on an electric vehicle purchase?

The answer is yes and there’s no difference here to that of a business buying a regular vehicle. The catch though, is that it must be for 100% business use. HMRC will likely ask you to prove this too, which is notoriously hard to do. if the vehicle is used by employees for personal reasons, then only 50% can be claimed.

The other point to note is that this only applies to vehicles that are classified as low emissions - less than 50g/km CO2. Not a problem for an electric vehicle and the business can claim full relief on rental payments. Above this figure though, only 85% can be claimed.

What can I claim if I used my personal electric vehicle for business use?

Since it became unattractive to have a company car, many people use their own vehicles for business use from time to time. As such regular vehicle owners have been able to make an expense claim for mileage use. If you use your electric vehicle for business use, the rates are exactly the same. The normal tax free mileage allowance is 45p per mile  up to 10,000 miles, thereafter 25p per mile.

What about the benefits of electric vans?

Many small business owners and self employed people can benefit here by being an electric van as opposed to a ‘car’.

A van is different from a car because its sole purpose is trade or business related. Also, it qualifies for the same FYA as electric cars do. Accordingly, a van can be used from both business and private use, without the employer or employee incurring a benefit in kind.

What are ‘super-deductions’ and do they apply to electric vehicles?

Super-deductions were announced in the March 2021 budget and relate to ‘qualifying assets’. A super-deduction 130% FYA can be deducted on the full cost of such assets.

But what are qualifying assets? Where electric vehicles are concerned, they are not qualifying assets, which are normally assets acquired to carry on a trade - e.g. office equipment, machinery, computers, etc. Cars are not treated as ‘main pool’ plant and machinery and thus do not qualify for capital allowance purposes.

The good news though is that if your business plans to install charging points for company electric vehicles, these do qualify for a super-deduction of 130%. In other words, for every £10,000 spent, your business can claim back £13,000.

This benefit lasts through 31 march 2023.

What government grants and schemes are currently available ?

Buying an electric vehicle through an employer’s salary sacrifice scheme.

This represents a method by which an employer can offer an employee an electric vehicle in a cost-neutral way through salary deductions. This takes advantage of the employer’s VAT deductions and the employee’s ‘pre-taxed’ salary. This is no different from the way a company may attract top talent by offering healthcare, gym membership, childcare, etc. It is an attractive option because it reduces the employee’s overall taxable income. In some circumstances it could move an employee into a lower tax band.

However, while still an attractive scheme, the government made changes in the scheme in 2017. Since then an employee is required to pay income tax on the value of the car or the amount of salary sacrificed. Those employees on salary sacrifice schemes prior to April 2017 lost this income tax allowance in April 2021.

Fully electric cars however, renew the attractiveness of this scheme as the incentives for electric vehicle purchase and company use remain. The grants offered though only apply to vehicles with a purchase price of less than £32,000.

Here are a few examples. Note these are based on ‘no salary sacrifice scheme implemented’.

Higher value vehicle examples

Example: A regular petrol vehicle

  • Purchase price: £45,000
  • Engine size and CO2: <1400cc)- 125g/km
  • Car benefit charge : £13,050
  • Tax liability:  20% = £2610, 40% = £5220

Example: Similar value e-car

  • Purchase price: £45,000
  • Car benefit charge - £450
  • Tax liability - 20%=£90, 40% = £180
  • Government grant: Does not apply.

Typical lower cost cars

Example: Fully electric:  e.g. Vauxhall Corsa-e

  • Purchase price: £25805 inc options
  • Car benefit charge - £258
  • Tax liability - 20%=£51.6, 40% = £103.20
  • £1500 government grant

Example: Regular petrol Cosa  (<1400cc - 125g/km)

  • Purchase price: £16,445
  • Car benefit charge - £4769
  • Tax liability - 20%=£953.80, 40% = £1907.60

Other grants available

For vans

  • A grant of £3000 available for small vans up to 2500kg.
  • A grant of £6000 for vans between 2500kg and 3000kg.

Homecharge scheme

  • Employees can make use of the Electric Vehicle Homecharge scheme. This provides 75% towards the cost of and installing a single charge point, up to a maximum of £350 per household per eligible vehicle.

Road tax

  • Electric cars are exempt from road tax
  • Hybrid  vehicles are taxed between £0 and £135 per year depending on CO2 emissions.

How tax Agility can help your business navigate the electric vehicle opportunity

We’ve been assisting small businesses and the self-employed in and around Richmond and Putney for many years. We’re intimately familiar with the issues faced by businesses looking to offer benefits to their employees in a tax efficient manner and also improving the business’s own tax efficiency.

E-vehicles are or have come of age, depending on your point of view. However, there’s no denying that at present there are some significant attractors to a business (or individuals) purchasing a new electric vehicle for business use. We can help you assess the value and benefit to your business, as each business is different.

Call tax Agility today and talk to us about electric vehicle ownership and how it can benefit your business.


Do I pay UK tax if I move overseas

Living Overseas - Do I need to pay tax if I leave the UK?

On the face of it, this seems like a simple question and is indeed one many people ask. For some it’s because they are genuinely emigrating to another country, for others, they plan on being away for extended periods of time, perhaps because they are ‘snow birds’, choosing to winter in warmer climes. And then, there are others that look to understand how they can reduce their tax burden because they move around, such as ‘digital nomads’. The reality is though, it’s not that simple.

Do I pay UK tax if I move overseasA common question from UK tax payers spending time overseas in different countries, sometimes for relatively short periods is: “Do I still need to pay tax and if so, to whom?” The answer is “most likely and to somebody”. It all depends on where you are, where you’re considered a tax resident and how much time you have spent there. A common mistake is in interpreting what is known as the 183 day rule. We’ll explore that and other points to consider in this article.

Necessity is the mother of invention

Over the past few years, much about everyday life has changed, especially where work and travel is concerned. Some people have been forced out of necessity to make changes, others driven more by lifestyle changes. Taxation is on the rise in the UK and likely so in many parts of Europe. It’s only natural then, for people prepared to move overseas to think about where they will get the best value for money, where their assets may be taxed less and the impact of tax on their retirement plans. Resourceful savers will seek out the best overseas locations with attractive taxation regimes and likely move.

As people retire, some consider the option of retiring abroad. While in the past, as part of the EU, retiring to the warmer climates of Spain and Portugal was high on the list for British people, Brexit and other restrictions have made for an uncertain future resulting in more than a few people returning to the UK, potentially complicating their tax affairs. Still though, consider plans further afield, such as South East Asia or even Central America. A number of countries offer attractive expat or retirement opportunities for those who can afford the residency and immigration fees.

The key question though remains - what will be my UK tax liability and how do i figure this out?

Enter the Digital Nomad

Even before recent pandemic issues, a new breed of worker emerged - the digital nomad. Digital nomads vary greatly in demographic; some are young adventurous travellers seeking to combine work and the joy or travelling, or even just to be based in a different country for an extended period. Others maybe more mature in years, seeking to leverage overseas property or even rent for an extended period to afford a new work location, or perhaps to avoid the inclement weather in the UK.

A number of countries offer attractive digital nomad packages - often for up to 12 months. For these adventurous individuals, it’s natural to ask the question about tax or indeed if they are able to reduce their tax burden by making such changes to their location and lifestyle, and the specific benefits their own circumstances my lead to in regard to UK tax.

So how do you figure out what tax you owe to whom?

Let’s start by considering when you cease to become a UK Tax Resident.

Many people have heard of the “183 day rule”. Simply applied, this means that if you spend 183 days or more in the UK you become a tax resident and need to pay taxes here. If this is the case for you, then the trail stops here. But what does it mean if you spend less than 183 days in the UK - are you automatically treated as a non-tax resident? This is where mistakes are made and people get caught out. Being out of the UK for more than183 days does not automatically mean you are non-tax resident. To work this out we need to refer to the Statutory Residence Test, from which the 183 day rule emerges.

Introducing the Statutory Residence Test - SRT

Ultimately, whether you are tax resident or not will come down to how you fare when you take the “Statutory Residence Test” or SRT.

There are four main parts to the SRT:

  1. How much time you have spent in the UK in a tax year.
  2. Automatic Overseas Test.
  3. Automatic UK Tests.
  4. Sufficient Ties Test.

Part one: How much time you’ve spent in the UK during the tax year 

As we said earlier; if you spend 183 days or more in the UK then you’re a UK tax resident and the test stops here. However, the problem people experience is more evident if the 183 day rule is stated another way: If you’re in the UK for less than 183 days, then you’re not a tax resident. It comes down to how you count, why you’re actually in the UK and what you are up to.

On the face of it, the 183 day rule seems easy to comprehend. In practice though, how HMRC calculates the number of days is not so simple. Let’s start with what HMRC consider as a day? Generally, HMRC considers you as having spent a day in the UK if you were in the UK from Midnight onwards. But, as you’ve probably guessed, other factors apply. In fact, three other considerations need to be made:

  1. The ‘deeming rule.
  2. Transiting the UK - transit days.
  3. Exceptional circumstances.

The deeming rule

As one might reasonably expect, not everyone may spend a full day in the UK if they are not permanently based here. They may be here for meetings or to visit a relative. Perhaps not too surprisingly, HMRC needs to be sure that people are not trying to avoid tax by being based outside of the UK and coming in on a regular basis for part of a day - always a possibility if somebody is based in a close neighbouring EU country or other tax haven.

The deeming rule assesses the following conditions:

  1. Whether you have been a resident in the UK for 1 or more years in the past 3 tax years.
  2. Whether during the tax year under consideration, you had more than 3 ties to the UK. These include: A family tie, an accommodation tie, a work tie or a 90 day tie. See Ties Test.
  3. Whether you were present in the UK on more than 30 days without being present at the end of the day (qualifying day) in the tax year of interest.

More on the deeming rule can be found here.

What’s the impact of the deeming rule?

It basically means that if you meet all the deeming rule’s conditions, after the first 30 qualifying days, all subsequent days within the tax year are treated as days spent in the UK. HMRC gives examples as to how this applies, but in summary, it means that although it may appear that under the SRT you are a non-resident for tax purposes, because of your ties here and previous tax status in the UK, even though you spend less than 183 days here, you may still be treated as a tax resident.

This is quite a complicated consideration and so it is best that you consult with a Tax Agility expert on this issue.

Note: You should still check your tax liabilities with the country you have spent time with though, as their rules may be different and you may still owe tax there. Also check out whether they have a dual taxation agreement with the UK, as this means that any tax you have to pay overseas may be eligible for a tax credit in the UK, lessening your tax liability here.

Transit days

A transit day is a day where you travel to and from other countries via the UK. These are usually not considered full days under the SRT. However, care must be taken here as it may appear tempting to use a transit day as an opportunity to conduct business in the UK or see friends and family. HMRC is quite clear that any activity that is ‘to a substantial extent unrelated to your passage through the UK’, means the day concerned can be counted as a qualifying day. Simply meeting your boss for breakfast or going out on the evening of your arrival with friends, could turn a non-qualifying day into a qualifying day and count towards your allowance. If in doubt, talk to us.

Exceptional circumstances

Sometimes people are forced to return to this country, perhaps because of a death in the family or a sick parent. HMRC are not blind to this and you may be granted special conditions in regard to the total number of days you can spend in the UK.

This may be affected by the number of days you have already spent in the UK, how much work you have engaged in, the location and the type of work involved. Be sure to get clarification on this first though.

Part 2: The Automatic Overseas Test

There are three parts to this test.

First Test: You will be considered as non-resident if you spent fewer than 16 days in the UK during the tax year and were resident in the UK for one or more of the 3 tax years before the current tax year.

Second test: If you were not resident in the UK in any of the three prior tax years and spend less than 46 days in the UK in the tax year of interest, you will be considered as non-resident.

Third test: If you worked overseas full-time over the tax year concerned and:

  • spent less than 91 days in the UK in that tax year.
  • spent less than 31 days where you worked for more than 3 hours a day in the UK.
  • there was no significant break in your overseas work.

A significant break is considered where at least 31 days go by where you’ve worked for more than 3 hours overseas, or would have worked for more than three hours but didn’t because of annual leave, sick leave or parenting leave.

Part 3: The Automatic UK Test

There are three parts to this test.

First automatic UK test: If you’ve spent 183 days or more in the UK, you are a tax resident.

Second automatic UK test: If, for the tax year, you’ve had a home in the UK for all or part of that year and if all the following apply, you’ll be a tax resident:

  • one period of 91 consecutive days where you had a home in the UK.
  • at least 30 of these 91 days fall in the tax year when you have a home in the UK and you’ve been present in that home for at least 30 days at any time during the year.
  • at that time you had no overseas home, or if you had an overseas home, you were present in it for fewer than 30 days in the tax year.
  • if you have more than one home, each home should be considered separately for the test and meet the test for one of them.

Third automatic test: You’ll be a tax resident if all the following apply:

  • you work full-time in the UK for any period of 365 days, which falls in the tax year.
  • more than 75% of the total number of days in the 365 day period when you do more than 3 hours work are days when you do more than 3 hours work in the UK.
  • at least one day which has to be both in the 365 day period and the tax year is a day on which you do more than 3 hours work in the UK.

Sufficiency ties test

If you are still in doubt and do not appear to meet the automatic overseas test or the automatic Uk test, then you’ll have to look at your ties to the UK. This will help determine if your time in the UK along with the ties you have here, will make you a tax resident or not. The ties to consider are:

  • a family tie.
  • an accommodation tie.
  • a work tie.
  • a 90 day tie.

Also, if in the prior three years you were a UK resident, you’ll need to consider if you have a country tie too. Essentially, the more ties you have to the UK, the less time you can spend here without becoming a tax resident.You can find out more about this here.

Are you considered domiciled in the UK or non-domiciled?

Domicile is another question that often crops up. This typically applies to foreign nationals living and working in the UK. The answer can have a significant impact on your tax liabilities in the UK.

The exact nature of your domicile can change, but ordinarily it is the country of birth for your farther or mother. While you may be considered a UK resident for tax purposes, your domicile status can impact tax on overseas income and inheritance.  The exact impact on your tax affairs needs to be very carefully considered and planned out with a qualified tax advisor. If you have questions concerning tax and your domicile status, talk to our tax advisors.

In conclusion

Tax residency status has a habit of being misunderstood simply because of the belief in the 183 day rule. For sure, if you’ve been in the UK for longer than 183 days then unless you’re looking to qualify under non-domiciliary conditions, you’re almost certainly a tax resident. However, for most people concerned about their tax residency status, it’s more likely they are counting days under 183 and fall foul of the other conditions that HMRC will test your status against. These could potentially limit your time to 16 days in some cases, particularly if you’re based overseas and coming to the UK fairly often or still have many ties to the UK.

Our advice is, don’t assume. Talk to a qualified tax advisor before you travel and discuss your plans for the tax year.