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Company car tax changes push drivers toward a greener future
As nationwide car leasing companies and an ever-increasing number of disgruntled company car drivers are aware, the Government has implemented changes to the tax paid by company car drivers to persuade them to select a ‘greener’ car. The new Lib-Con Government of 2010 has further reinforced these changes, with the deficit that David Cameron is determined to halve “within four years” adding fuel to the fire as the Chancellor hopes to raise 120 million extra from company car drivers. Is that really for the sake of the environment, or more for the sake of the Government’s pocket?
Either way, company car drivers and people with an interest in nationwide car leasing need to fully understand the changes that have been made to ensure they are getting the most out of their company car. The Government’s new tax changes mean zero emissions company cars, including electric cars, will not be taxed. But with such a small number of electric cars on the road or even in production in Britain, until the Government provides the extra financial support they have promised car manufacturers to increase production of these cars it is currently an unrealistic option.
Decifering the jargon
The tax to be paid by employees who make use of company cars is determined by three primary factors; the list price, CO2 emissions, and fuel type of the car.
The most important change that drivers and nationwide car leasing customers need to be aware of is the reduction in the CO2 emissions figure which sets the 15 per cent tax rate (the percentage of tax liability of the company car) – this has been reduced from 135 to 130 g/km. This is set to be further reduced to 125 g/km in 2011/12.1
The tax bracket for company cars with zero emissions has been reduced to zero per cent for five years with effect from 6th April 2010, and the percentage for cars with CO2 emissions not exceeding 75g/km has also been reduced to five per cent for five years (subject to the diesel surcharge where appropriate).1 Fantastic, if you can actually find a car that fits this description…
Another notch on the green post is the fixed AMAP, which has remained at 40p per mile since 2002. In order to make any benefit from this it is vital that more fuel efficient cars are selected.2
Environmentalists and nationwide car leasing enthusiasts are welcoming the changes to company car tax, hoping it will help the fight against greenhouse emissions, but you have to wonder how much the eco-warriors really understand the changes and the resulting impact it will have on the company car driver’s choice of vehicle – as it may not be a choice they like. For example, it is questionable that the Government is continuing to retain the three per cent differential for diesel cars; diesels are widely renowned for their fuel efficiency over petrol, but by punishing diesel drivers with this additional surcharge many drivers may start ignoring the benefits in driving a diesel and opt for a petrol car – going against the Government’s pledge of a greener Britain.
And don’t fall under the illusion that these are temporary measures. From 6th April 2011, the £80,000 price cap on company car list prices for tax purposes will be abolished, and the company car tax discounts that currently apply to alternatively-fuelled vehicles (electric-petrol hybrids, ‘Flex-Fuel vehicles’, bi-fuels, road fuel gas and bioethanol) will also be axed. Then from 6th April 2012 the special 10 per cent tax bracket for company cars emitting 120 g/km or less will be the new 15 per cent – the 10 per cent tax rate will instead apply to company cars with emissions up to 99g/km. In addition, the system of bands will then increase by one percentage point with every five g/km up from 10 per cent.1
Britain’s convention with the EU is putting additional pressures on the Government and nationwide car leasing firms where greener fuels are concerned. By 2012, all EU countries have a legally-binding target of 130 g/km for average emissions of which all manufacturers need to comply.
All these changes force the company car driver into a corner – choose the most fuel-efficient car as possible in order to ensure you aren’t left out of pocket. This is another reason why a nationwide car leasing company is high on the company car driver’s agenda.
There are many helpful tools on the web that can help you calculate the company car tax that you would be liable for on any selected vehicle, but rather than wade through masses of car types hoping to stumble across an economic little runner that will still suit your needs, which include both comfort for those long hauls up and down the motorway as well as having the space for comfortable journeys with colleagues and the luggage that will invariably follow, here is a run down of potential winners to be considered.
In the first half of 2010 compared to the first half of 2009, a number of car manufacturers made significant reductions to their C02 emissions. The top scoring manufacturers included Lexus, Alfa Romeo and Seat. All these brands can be supplied by any reputable nationwide car leasing firm.
When selecting a model for space and comfort, look to the top three with the most improved emissions figures (for the first half of 2010 compared with the first half of 2009) – Lexus RX, with a 23.10 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions and average emissions of 148.03 g/km, Porsche Cayenne with a 17.87 per cent reduction in emissions averaging at 234.56 g/km, and the Volvo V50 with 14.59 per cent reduction in emissions averaging at 128.12 g/km. If space isn’t such an issue and you want to save cash by keeping within the 15 per cent tax bracket here are the top three models with emissions all under 130 g/km; the Toyota Prius with emissions of 91.20 g/km, the Honda Insight at 103.80 g/km and the Suzuki Alto at 104.60 g/km.
With so many manufacturers working hard to push their cars towards lower emissions figures, there is no need for company car drivers to feel outdone by the tax changes – whether the requirement is for a large MPV or a supermini, there is a green option out there for everyone and a nationwide car leasing company to supply it.