The latest Clay Shaw Butler Money Matters column from the Carmarthenshire Herald
By Mark Jones, director of Carmarthen-based Clay Shaw Butler chartered accountants and business consultants.
Company cars can be quite a controversial issue, for the employer, for employees and for the taxman.
HMRC recently lost a first tier tribunal case on the recovery of VAT on the purchase of six company cars.
Although most VAT registered businesses are able to recover the VAT on the purchase of commercial vehicles the rules for the recovery on a car state two conditions must be met:
- the vehicle must be used exclusively for business purposes and
- it is not made available for private use.
The business had a strongly worded contract of employment that prevented employees from using company cars for private travel.
This was the crucial factor in this case and allowed the business to recover more than £27,000 in input VAT on the purchase of six new cars.
The tribunal was satisfied that the cars were wholly used for business purposes and were not available for private use.
The tribunal also rejected HMRC's argument that the company had failed to demonstrate that the cars were not available for private use.
Other factors which were relevant:
- The Tribunal was satisfied that all employees signed a contract when they first joined the company, which included the following 'It is hereby strictly forbidden for the Employee to use the Company vehicle for any personal use inside/outside their employment hours'.
- The six cars were always kept overnight at the company's offices or were left on site.
- Zone Contractors carry out groundwork projects and the vehicles were appropriate for for site based work.
- The taxpayer also successfully counteracted HMRC's argument that the insurance cover of the vehicles included use for 'social, domestic and pleasure' (SDP), and was not just restricted to business use. But the tribunal accepted it was impossible to have a business only policy without the SDP clause.
- HMRC also put forward an argument that private use of a car would include detours to buy 'cigarettes or lunch while out on a business journey or even going off site to collect lunch'. The tribunal concluded that such use could be ignored as de minimis.
- The intended use of the car at the time it is purchased is crucial. The private use issue means that either a legal restriction to prevent such use or a physical restriction must be in place.
In other news, HMRC have issued a series of consultation documents outlining further plans for the government's Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative.
HMRC have published six consultation documents on MTD.
The six consultations set out detailed plans on how HMRC propose to make tax digital and to simplify the tax system. The consultations look at the following areas:
- How digital record keeping and regular updates will operate - this considers compulsory digital record-keeping and quarterly 'updates' to HMRC and an End of Year declaration within nine months of the end of the period of account.
- Options to simplify tax for unincorporated businesses, including changes to basis periods, extending cash basis accounting and reducing reporting requirements for unincorporated businesses.
- Extending cash basis accounting to unincorporated property businesses.
- Voluntary pay as you go arrangements, where taxpayers can pay what they want when they want, subject to the normal payment on account rules. Regular direct debit arrangements and quarterly payments on account are also being considered.
- Changes to tax administration, including changes to the enquiry regime, penalties for late submission of quarterly updates and End of Year declarations and also the late payment of tax.
- How HMRC will make better use of the information which they currently receive from third parties, including updating of PAYE codes more regularly and coding out of bank interest via PAYE.
You can find out more about money matters on the Clay Shaw Butler website (under our news for business section) -
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