Electric carCan I buy an electric car through my LTD Company to save tax?

Over the last couple of years the Government has made it clear that it wants us to ditch our petrol and diesel cars and switch to electric. One way to encourage us to make that switch to electric has been changes in the tax system – by offering tax breaks. Generous ones too.

The main brand of choice for electric cars for business owners has been Tesla, until now…

Most car manufacturers now offer a range of electric and hybrid cars.

For example, Jaguar has launched the I-Pace and Mercedes the EQ.

After deciding an electric car may be the way forward one of the main questions business owners are asking is… 

 

what is the most tax efficient way to get it?

 

Practical considerations

When deciding what car to buy the first thing to consider isn’t the amount of tax relief on offer but rather the practical stuff such as…..

  • How many years are you probably wanting to drive this car?
  • How many miles do you drive in a year?
  • How many long-distance trips do you do (What’s the range of the car and charging points en route?)

It’s also important to remember that for a car to be treated as an electric car it MUST BE pure electric.

Hybrid cars aren’t 100% electric. As far as the taxman is concerned, they DON’T qualify for the tax breaks that electric cars do.

 

Your Purchasing Options

In truth there are four main ways for the company to buy an electric car.

    1. Purchase it out right
    2. HP
    3. Lease
    4. PCP

As you will see below the tax implications for each of these four options are quite different. With both corporation tax and personal tax rates rising in the very near future picking the best option for you is more important than ever.

The Tax Implications

There will be several taxes to consider no matter which option you go for. But, which option saves the most amount of tax so there is more cash left for you.

To try and help you make sense of the tax implications for each of the 4 options I’ll give some figures using a worked example.

Let’s say…

You plan to get a Model 3 Tesla worth approx £50,000 and which you will drive for 3 years at which point you’ll get rid of it.

Your business makes pre-tax profit of £300,000 each year and you earn £50,000 meaning you are a higher rate taxpayer paying 40% income tax.

 

Let’s look at the four options…..

 

Option 1 – Buy Out Right

If your company buys the electric car out right then the whole cost will be offset against its’ profits. That means in the year the car is bought the company profits are reduced from £300,000 to £250,000.

1 Tax Savings

In the year of purchase will save corporation bill of £9,500.

And that’s because the corporation tax relief is: £50,000 (the cost of the car) x  19% (the corporation tax rate for the 2023 financial year) = £9,500.

Bear in mind that corporation tax rates are scheduled to rise from 19% to 25% from 1st April 2023. That means if the car is bought after this date then the potential corporation tax savings are likely to be higher.

2 Tax Payable – Benefit in kind (BIK)

Having a company vehicle is a ‘perk’ for you as an employee. It’s not tax free. There is income tax and national insurance to pay on the benefit in kind (BIK).

At the moment, the BIK rates for electric cars are currently incredibly low at just 2% of the list price. Using a 2% rate on a £50,000 car means the BIK value is £1,000.

Income tax payable (each year) : £1,000 (BIK value) x * 40% (tax rate) = £400

National insurance (each year) : £1,000 (BIK rate) x 13.8% (Employer NIC) = £138

The total income tax & national insurance payable for 3 years : £1,614

(This assumes the BIK rate remains at 2% for next 3 years and it may not!)

3 Tax Payable – on sale of car

HMRC rules mean your company gets tax relief on the ‘net cost’ of the car. The net cost being the difference between what your company buys the car for and then sells it for.

HMRC’s rules mean your company gets corporation tax relief on the purchase price BUT when the car is sold then the company pays corporation tax on the sale proceeds.

In this example, there is corporation tax payable on the £20,000 proceeds in the year of sale.

Corporation tax payable : £20,000 (proceeds) * 25% (corporation tax rate in 2025) = £5,000

Buy Outright Option Cash Summary

So what’s the best option for you? Before you decide, you need to consider everything – the cost of buying, selling and financing the car AS WELL as all the taxes that will saved and paid.

Here is the summary for the buy outright option….

                                                                                    £

            Purchase price                                                50,000

            Less sale proceeds                                          -20,000

            Less corporation tax saved on purchase        – 9,500

            Add income tax & National insurance              1,614

            Add corporation tax repaid on sale                   5,000           

            Net cost of the car over 3 years                    27,114

 

Option 2 – HP

Buying a car on hire purchase (HP) means your company has bought the car. Your company is the owner. The only difference with option 1 is that your company has taken out a loan (HP agreement) to buy it.

So what’s the difference between buying the car outright (under option 1) and HP? The main difference is cashflow. With the HP option, your company will have to pay an initial deposit, and then the balance is payable via monthly instalments spread over 3 years.

1 Tax Savings

The corporation tax savings are exactly the same as for option 1.

Corporation tax saved (in year of purchase) : £9,500.

BUT

Over the 3 years of the agreement the company will pay interest as part of each month’s HP payment. This HP interest is a business cost – on which your company will claim corporation tax relief.

Corporation tax saved (over 3 years) : £3,000 (HP interest) x 25% (future corporation tax rate) = £750.

2 Tax Payable – Benefit in kind

This is exactly the same as with option 1.

Total income tax & national insurance payable for 3 years is therefore £1,614

(This assumes the BIK rate remains at 2% for next 3 years and it may not!)

 

 

3 Tax Payable – on sale of car

This is exactly the same as for option 1.

Corporation tax payment (in year of sale) : £5,000.

 

Buy via HP Option Cash Summary

                                                                                    £

            Purchase price                                                50,000

            HP Interest paid                                                3,000

            Less sale proceeds                                          -20,000

            Less corporation tax saved on purchase        – 9,500

            Less corporation tax saved ion HP interest    –     750

            Add income tax & National insurance               1,614

            Add corporation tax repaid on sale                   5,000           

            Net cost over 3 years                                     29,364

 

Option 3 – Lease

When your company leases an electric car it is actually being rented. It’s not the company that owns the car instead the finance company does. Most of the time the nature of the lease agreement means that at the end of the 3 years your company simply gives the car back. 

But the key point for tax is that your company never actually owns the car. It’s not an asset of the company. As a result, it’s not shown as an asset in the Balance Sheet of the company’s annual accounts.

Instead, the monthly lease payments made are added up and included in the Profit and loss account as a cost of your company. That cost then reduces the profit and corporation tax for the year.

Let’s take a look at the tax implications and in doing so let’s assume the lease agreement for the car is £3,000+vat deposit followed by 35 monthly payments of £500+vat.

1 Tax Savings – corporation tax

Unlike options 1 and 2 you don’t get tax relief on the purchase price. That’s because you don’t own the car – remember you’re leasing (or renting) it.

As mentioned above you get corporation tax relief for every lease payment you made in the financial year in which they are made.

That means the corporation tax savings are spread over the 3 years of the lease agreement.

Corporation tax saved:

Year 1 : £10,200 (deposit + 11 monthly payment + vat) x 19% (corporation tax rate) = £1,938

Year 2 : £7,200 (12 monthly payment + vat) x 25% (future corporation tax rate) = £1,800

Year 3 : £7,200 (12 monthly payment + vat) x 25% (future corporation tax rate) = £1,800

2 Tax Savings – VAT

Your company can also reclaim 50% of the VAT which is charged as part of the monthly lease payment since the car is being leased. 

The lease cost and the VAT to be reclaimed would be included in the quarterly VAT return just like any other business cost.

VAT to be claimed : £24,600 (total of deposit & 35 instalments paid) X 1/6 (VAT element of the payments) x 50% (the % that can be reclaimed) = £2,050.

3 Tax Payable – Benefit in kind

This is exactly the same as with options 1 and 2.

Total income tax & national insurance payable for 3 years is therefore £1,614

(This assumes the BIK rate remains at 2% for next 3 years and it may not!)

Lease Option Cash Summary

                                                                                    £

            Initial Deposit  (incl VAT)                                   3,600

            35 monthly payments (incl VAT)                    21,000

            Less Corporation tax on lease payments        – 2,050

            Less 50% VAT reclaimed on lease payments  – 2,870

            Add income tax & National insurance               1,614

            Net cost over 3 years                                     21,304

 

Option 4 – Buy it yourself

The final of the 4 options is to buy the car yourself. You would personally pay for it, meaning you would own it.

Over the course of the year, some of the mileage done would be for business – for example visiting customers.

To work out the possible tax implications of this option let’s say you did 5,000 business miles a year.

1 Tax saving – mileage claim

You are entitled to submit an expense claim for the business miles done since you are using your own car for business. Any claim would use the current mileage rate of 45p and would be applied to the number of business miles done.

Using 5,000 miles your mileage claim would therefore be worth £2,250. This claim would be a cost to the company thus saving it corporation tax. You too would save tax as you would be entitled to take £2,250 from your company by way of repayment of expenses rather than via dividends which would be taxed.

Corporation tax saved : £2,250 (expense claim) x 3 (3 years of ownership) X 25% (future corporation tax rate) = £1,687

 

Dividend tax saved : £2,250 (expense claim) x 3 (3 years of ownership) X 33.75% (future dividend tax rate) = £2,278

2 Dividend Tax paid

 

BUT to buy the car in the first place you would need to have £50,000.

Almost certainly this money would have come from your company. Almost certainly this would have come by way of a £50,000 dividend.

That means higher rate dividend tax would need to be paid on this £50,000 dividend.

Dividend tax payable :  £50,000 (dividend) / 0.6625 (this is to gross up for the new higher rate dividend tax) = £75,472 less the original 50,000 = £25,472

 

 

Buy Yourself Option Cash Summary

 

            Purchase price                                                50,000

            Less sale proceeds                                          -20,000

            Less mileage expense claims (for 3 years)     – 6,750

            Less corporation tax saved on mileage claim –  1,687

            Less dividend tax saved on mileage claim     –  2,278

            Add dividend tax on dividend for purchase   25,472

            Net cost over 3 years                                     44,757

 

 

SO IN SUMMARY

As you can see the illustrative figures show there are BIG differences in the ‘net cost over 3 years’ for each of the four options. The situation is made further complicated by the fact that both company and personal tax rates are set to rise in the near future.

This article reflects the tax increases which have already been announced but bear in mind further changes are likely to be announced over the next 3 years. So ensure you use this for illustrative purposes and compute the figures carefully with your advisers before committing to any purchase!

It would also make sense to factor in other costs, such as insurance, possible repairs, etc. If these costs were paid by the company (rather than you personally) then there may be extra corporation tax savings for your company.

One final thought.

To avoid you wasting money by paying too much tax it is imperative that you need to know which is going to be the best option for you.

In order to choose the best option for you, I recommend that you prepare detailed calculations for your electric car for each of the four options listed above. The illustrated examples above should help.

PS

If you have a friend who is thinking about buying an electric car then please share this article ASAP – it may mean they don’t miss out on tax savings worth thousands.

DISCLAIMER
This article is for general information only and no action should be taken, or refrained from, as a result of this information.  Professional advice should be taken based on specific circumstances in each individual case.  Tax rates do change over time.  Whilst we endeavour to ensure that the information contained in the article is correct, no liability will be accepted by KMA Accountancy or Krystal Clear Accountancy, both of which, are trading names of Kim Marlor Associates Ltd or damages of any kind arising from the contents of this communication, or for any action or decision taken as a result of using any such information

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