HMRC U-turns on its double cab pickups tax decision

HMRC surprised all taxpayers who own a double cab pickup as a company vehicle on 12 February by announcing that these vehicles would be classified as cars and not vans, which would have led to higher National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for owners.

HMRC had initially confirmed that, from 1 July 2024, double cab pickups (DCPUs) with a payload of one tonne or more would be treated as cars for both capital allowances and benefit-in-kind (BIK) purposes.

However, due to a backlash from farmers and those in the motoring industry, the Government reversed their decision on 19 February.

How will this affect me?

In short, it means your National Insurance Contributions will stay as they did before HMRC introduced its current guidance.

There is no need to re-evaluate your choices, although it might be worth switching to an electric car (for example) if you wish to pay an even lower rate of tax.

HMRC announced it will withdraw the existing guidance based on an earlier ruling, which means DCPUs will continue to be treated as vans rather than cars.

Whether your payload is more than one tonne or less than one tonne, you will not be affected and your DCPU will still be classed as a van.

If you have a business car which you use for private use, you will have to pay a BIK contribution.

Every car has a BIK band but, as an employer, your BIK rates will no longer increase whenever you choose to give this vehicle to your employee.

Your BIK payment rate is calculated based on the P11D value of your vehicle, its CO2 emissions, and your employee’s income tax band.

Your employee will pay BIK tax on the car, but you will pay your National Insurance on the car’s BIK value – this is currently set at 13.8 per cent.

How will this affect my business?

As your vehicle will not be classed as a car, you can claim Capital Allowances, which enables the deduction of some vehicle costs from profits before tax payments.

Capital Allowances allow you, as a business, to write down your qualifying capital expenditure on plants or machinery against your taxable income.

Also, VAT reclamation on purchase price and running costs is possible, so long as you meet the specific conditions and limitations.

All vehicles used for business purposes can claim back 100 per cent of the VAT.

Your vehicle is still classed as a van which emphasises its purpose of being a goods vehicle and so is used for business purposes.

However, unless your business’s vehicle is a ‘pool’ vehicle (e.g., used only for business purposes and kept at the business’s property), VAT on the purchase price cannot be recovered.

If you lease a vehicle, rather than purchasing it, you can recover 50 per cent of the VAT charged on the car rental price (or 100 per cent in the case of pool cars).

The choice to reverse HMRC’s decision means that the current tax opportunities for DCPUs remains unchanged.

Is it time to switch to an electronic vehicle?

Although HMRC reversed its decision, you might still want to consider switching to an electric vehicle.

Electric vehicles are entitled to Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs) which permit the deduction of the full cost from profits before tax.

This could result in significant savings, especially in your initial year of purchase.

Also, your electric vehicle will incur lower BIK rates compared to a petrol or diesel car.

This will reduce tax liability for employees if they use your business’s car for personal use.

However, VAT paid on the cost of recharging your electric car and van cannot be recovered as normal input VAT.

The tax incentives offered are something you should consider as you will save money which could impact your business’s finances.

Electric cars are also a benefit to potential customers – they show you are concerned with the environment and are looking to reduce your CO2 footprint.

If you use a vehicle for your business and want advice for your tax obligations, please get in touch with us today.

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