The taxable benefit on the use of company cars and fuel for those vehicles has increased from 6 April 2010. Take for example a petrol-powered car with CO2 emissions of 160g/km. In the tax year to 5 April 2010 you were 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 was based on a fixed value of £16,900 multiplied by the percentage used to calculate the car benefit. So there is an increase in both the percentage and the multiplier. From 6 April 2010 the 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. Currently where free fuel is 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 will be 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.