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Company Car and Van Changes

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Newsletter issue - April 2010.

The taxable benefit charged for the use of company cars and fuel for those vehicles is increasing from 6 April 2010. Say you drive a petrol-powered car with CO2 emissions of 160g/km. In the tax year to 5 April 2010 you are taxed at 20% of the vehicle's list price. From 6 April 2010 the taxable benefit for driving the same car will be 21% of its list price.

The tax position for those who have free fuel with their vehicles is even worse. Until 5 April 2010, the value of the fuel-benefit for all company cars is based on a fixed value of £16,900 multiplied by the percentage used to calculate the car benefit. So there is the combined effect of the increased percentage and the increased multiplier. From 6 April 2010 this value increases to £18,000. This means the taxable benefit of having free fuel for a petrol car with emissions of 160g/km will increase from £3,380 to £3,780.

Company van drivers are also hit by the rise in the fuel benefit. Previously where free fuel was provided in a company van, and the van is used for some non-business journeys, the driver is taxed on £500 per year for the use of that fuel. From 6 April 2010 the van driver is taxed on £550 per year for use of the fuel.

You can reduce these high tax charges by switching to a low emissions car. Where the CO2 emissions are 120g/km or less the car benefit for petrol cars is just 10% of the list price, and half that amount where CO2 emissions are 75g/km or less. We could only find one car with emissions in that bottom category: Toyota plug-in Prius, which has an official CO2 emissions rating of only 67g/km.

If your vehicle has zero emissions such as an electric car or van, there is no tax charge at all from 6 April 2010. What's more, when your business buys a new electric vehicle it can write-off the full cost for tax purposes in the year of acquisition.