Employer costs and benefits

company car tax employer costs

Providing a company car to an employee or director for private use has financial implications for the employer as well as the vehicle recipient. Under the current tax system, the employer is liable to pay Class 1A NICs to reflect the Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) provided to the employee.

Company ownership of vehicles also impacts on how capital expenditures can be set against a company's profit. Whereas most cars are able to use standard capital allowances, some Ultra Low Emission Vehicles are eligible for a 100% first-year write down as part of the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme.

Employer Class 1A NICs – April 2016 to March 2017

To reflect the benefit-in-kind provided, Class 1A National Insurance Contributions (NICs) must be paid by the employer for each vehicle provided to an employee for personal use.

As with company car tax, Class 1 NICs based on the vehicle's P11D value and relevant BIK rate which is determined by the official CO2 emissions and fuel type.

The level of NI contributions is also determined by an annual percentage rate which is announced in the Budget – and which is currently 13.8% in financial year 2016-17.

The basic calculation to determine the amount of Class 1A NICs payable is as follows:
NIC = P11D value x BIK rate based on CO2 x 13.8%

See BIK rates 2017 - 2021 for current and future BIK percentages and/or search cars by BIK rate to find all new cars with particular BIK rate vales.

Enhanced Capital Allowances – April 2016 to March 2021

In addition to standard capital allowances available for company vehicle ownership, businesses are able to claim an Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) for low emission vehicles if used for business related activities.

Until end March 2021, battery electric vehicles and the greenest ultra-low emission vehicles are eligible for a 100% 'write-down' in the first-year of purchase. To qualify, the vehicle must be brand new. Refuelling equipment for natural gas, biogas or hydrogen vehicles are also eligible under the ECA scheme. Note, however, that this benefit no longer applies to rental and hire companies (including car clubs) which makes vehicles available for short-term hire.

Businesses of all sizes can claim the 100% allowance on a car provided that:
* the car is 'unused and not second hand';
* it is electric or has CO2 emissions of not more than 75 g/km (to March 2018);
* it is electric or has CO2 emissions of not more than 50 g/km (April 2018 to March 2021);
* the expenditure is incurred before 31 March 2021.

While the ECA scheme will continue until 31 March 2021, from April 2018, the qualifying ECA threshold for low carbon vehicles will reduce from 75 g/km to 50 g/km to match the latest EU CO2 emission targets. April 2018 also sees the lowering of the threshold for main rate cars.

Annual write-down rates for cars registered registered on or after 01 April 2015

Capital Allowance Rates  Allocation CO2 (g/km)   
April 2015 - Mar 2018
CO2 (g/km)   
April 2018 - Mar 2021
100% FYA (first year) Enhanced Up to 75 g/km Up to 50 g/km
18% WDA (annual) Main rate 76-130 g/km 51-110 g/km
8% WDA annual Special rate Over 130 g/km Over 110 g/km

Sources: Budget 2015. Budget 2016.

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:17th Mar 2016

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