How to account for VAT on vehicles and fuel you use for your business.
1.1 This notice
This notice explains:
- what a car is for VAT purposes
- the VAT treatment of motoring expenses incurred by your business
- what vehicles qualify and whether you can claim back all or some of the VAT charged (the reclaiming of some input tax on motoring expenses is not allowed or is ‘blocked’)
- when you must account for VAT
- how to work out your output tax
- the records you must keep
- what you can and cannot treat as input tax
There are some exceptions to these rules which are also listed.
1.2 Who should read it
Anyone who’s registered for VAT and is charged VAT on motoring expenses.
1.3 Law covered in this notice
The VAT (Input Tax) Order 1992 (SI 1992 No 3222) Article 2 defines what a car is.
The VAT Act 1994, sections 56 and 57 cover scale charges.
The VAT (Input Tax) (Reimbursement by Employers of Employees’ Business Use of Road Fuel) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005 No 3290) deals with fuel supplied to the employer for use in the employer’s business where it is delivered and paid for by his employee on his behalf and where the employee is reimbursed.
2. The VAT definition of a car
2.1 What is a car
A car for VAT purposes is any motor vehicle of a kind normally used on public roads which has 3 or more wheels and either:
- is constructed or adapted mainly for carrying passengers
- has roofed accommodation to the rear of driver’s seat that’s fitted with side windows or that’s constructed or adapted for the fitting of side windows
The following are not cars for VAT purposes:
- vehicles capable of accommodating only one person or suitable for carrying 12 or more people including the driver
- caravans, ambulances and prison vans
- vehicles of not less than 3 tonnes unladen weight
- special purpose vehicles, such as ice cream vans, mobile shops, hearses, bullion vans, and breakdown and recovery vehicles
- vehicles with a payload of one tonne or more
2.3 Qualifying car
A qualifying car is a car that’s not been subject to the full input tax block. This means that your business or any previous owner has recovered the input tax on the purchase in full. Such cars will be sold on a normal tax invoice with VAT charged on the full selling price.
2.4 Commercial vehicle converted into a car
You can convert a commercial vehicle into a car for VAT purposes. But if you recover VAT on the purchase of the vehicle you must account for output tax when the conversion is completed. The value for VAT purposes is the value of the vehicle at the time the conversion is completed, including the cost of the conversion. You can recover VAT on any parts bought for the conversion.
Examples of some of the ways in which you might convert a commercial vehicle into a car include:
- fitting a side window or windows in a van to the rear of the driver’s seat
- fitting a rear seat or seats to a van — even without side windows
- removing seats from a 12 seater vehicle
2.5 Car converted into a commercial vehicle
In some cases you may convert a vehicle defined as a car into a commercial vehicle. This can be done, for example, by removing rear seats, seat belt mountings, and windows permanently or by adding additional seats so that the vehicle can legally seat 12 or more people. You can only recover the VAT on the car if it was bought specifically for this conversion and not used as a car.
2.6 VAT rules on constructing a car kit
If you construct a car from a kit or from separately bought new parts, you can recover the VAT charged. But if you sell the finished car, you must account for VAT on the full selling price in the normal way. If you use the finished car in your business for a purpose that would qualify for input tax recovery you must account for VAT on the self-supply in the normal way.
2.7 Adapting a car for use by people with disabilities
Find more information on adapting or modifying a car for the use of the disabled.
3. Input tax on buying a car
3.1 Recovering the VAT charged on buying, importing or acquiring a car
As a general rule, you cannot recover the VAT on the purchase.
But if you buy, import or acquire one of these excepted cars, you may recover VAT in full.
These are a car which:
- is a stock in trade of a motor manufacturer or dealer (read section 3.2)
- is intended to be used primarily as a taxi, driving instruction car, or self-drive hire (read section 3.4)
- will be used exclusively for the purposes of your business (read section 3.5) and would not be made available for the private use of anyone
3.2 Stock in trade car
A stock in trade car is one which is either:
- produced by the manufacturer who intends to sell it within 12 months of its production
- obtained by a dealer who intends to sell it within 12 months of the date that VAT was incurred on its purchase, acquisition or importation — stock in trade cars do not include second hand cars that are not qualifying cars
3.3 Car ceasing to be stock in trade
A car remains a stock in trade for so long as it’s the intention of the dealer or manufacturer to sell it within the next 12 months.
If a car ceases to be stock in trade and it no longer qualifies for input tax recovery under one of the other exceptions, a self-supply occurs (read section 3.10 for more information).
3.4 Recovering the VAT incurred when a car is bought primarily for taxi self drive hire or driving instruction
You can recover the VAT incurred, but only if the car is a qualifying car and you intend to use it primarily for:
- hire with the services of a driver for the purpose of carrying passengers
- self drive hire
- providing driving instruction
3.5 Car used exclusively for business purposes
A car is used exclusively for business purposes if you use it only for business journeys and it is not available for private use. This means that you do not intend to make it available for the private use of employees or anyone else.
3.6 ‘Making it available for private use’
A car is available for private use when there’s nothing preventing you or your employee from using the car for private use. The fact that you bought your car for the purpose of your business is not the only requirement. You need to make sure that the car is not made available to anyone else.
3.7 VAT incurred when you buy a pool car
You can recover the VAT incurred as long as it’s:
- normally kept at the principal place of business
- not allocated to an individual
- not kept at an employee’s home
3.8 Cars bought for the purpose of sale and lease back available for private use
Cars bought or imported for the purpose of sale and lease back will not be treated as available for private use provided you account for output tax on the resale to the leasing company in the same tax period as you recover input tax on the purchase.
3.9 Cars bought for in-house leasing
You may recover VAT on these cars. But the amounts you charge the lessee must not be less than those for a commercial arms length letting. The charges must be equivalent to those lessees would pay to lease the car on the open market.
3.10 Changing the use of a car
If you recover VAT on a car because of one of the exceptions in section 3.1 ‘Changing the use of a car’, but later put the car to a use that would not qualify for recovery under any of the exceptions a ‘self supply’ occurs.
A ‘self supply’ means that you must account for output tax at the time of the change of use on the current value of the car. You can take the current purchase price of an identical car or, if this is not available, of a similar car as the current value.
4. Input tax on leased cars
4.1 Leasing company recovering VAT on purchase of cars
You can recover the VAT as long as the cars are leased at a commercial rate. You must include a statement as to whether or not each car that you lease is a ‘qualifying car’ on the tax invoice you issue. Your customer needs this information.
4.2 Business leasing a car and recovering the VAT
If you lease a ‘qualifying car’ for business purposes you cannot normally recover 50% of the VAT charged. The 50% block is to cover the private use of the car. You can reclaim the remaining 50% of the VAT charged, subject to the normal rules. The VAT guide (Notice 700) the VAT guide and Notice 706: partial exemption give more information.
4.3 Cars leased primarily for taxi or driving instruction
You can reclaim all of the VAT charged on the lease if the car is a qualifying car and you intend to use it primarily for:
- hire with a driver for carrying passengers
- providing driving instruction
4.4 50% block applying to self-drive hire (daily rental) as well as leasing
It applies if the car is hired simply to replace an off the road ordinary company car. The 50% block applies from the first day of hire. We accept that in other cases, (for example if you do not have a company car), if you hire a car for no more than 10 days to use specifically for your business, the 50% block will not apply.
4.5 Charges the 50% block applies to
The 50% block applies to all the VAT on charges you pay for the rental of the car under the terms of the leasing agreement. This includes:
- optional services — unless they’re supplied and identified separately from the leasing supply on the tax invoice
- excess mileage charge — if it forms part of a supply of leasing but not if it was incurred on an excess mileage charge that forms part of a separate supply of maintenance
4.6 Lease or maintenance charge supplied separately
We have agreed guidelines on what is acceptable as evidence that leasing and maintenance are supplied separately, with the leasing trade organisations. The full text appears in Notice 700/57: administrative agreements entered into with trade bodies.
4.7 Terminating your lease early
If you terminate your lease early, the leasing company will treat the termination payment and any associated rebate of rental as taxable. It will normally offset the termination payment against the rebate and issue you with a VAT invoice for the difference.
4.8 50% block applying to early termination of a lease
From 1 April 2022, if you terminate a contract early, the fees charged are regarded as further consideration for the contracted supply.
The 50% block applies because the termination charge is additional charge for the rental of the car. You cannot recover 50% of the VAT shown on the invoice.
If the rebate exceeds the termination payment, the leasing company will issue you with a VAT credit note for the balance.
If VAT on your rentals was 50% restricted, you need adjust only 50% of the VAT credit in your VAT account.
4.9 What about rebates of rental
You will receive a rebate of rental payments when a car is sold at the end of a lease. The proceeds are used by the lessor to rebate the monthly rental payments.
4.10 Adjusting the VAT if you receive a rental rebate
If you incur the 50% block on the rental charges on a car and, at the end of the full term of the lease, the lessor issues you with a VAT credit note for a rebate of rental, you need to adjust only 50% of the VAT credit in your VAT account. Further guidance on how to do this can be found in the VAT guide (Notice 700).
5. Input tax on repairs and other motoring expenses
5.1 Recovering VAT charged on repairs and maintenance
If you use a vehicle for business purposes, you can reclaim the VAT you were charged on repairs and maintenance as input tax as long as the business paid for the work. It does not matter if the vehicle is used for private motoring or if you have chosen not to reclaim VAT on road fuel.
If you’re a sole proprietor or partner and use a vehicle solely for your own private motoring you cannot reclaim the VAT on repairs as input tax.
5.2 Recovering VAT charged on accessories
When you buy a car on which VAT was blocked (read section 3 ‘Input tax on buying a car’), you cannot recover the VAT you have been charged on accessories fitted to it at the time of purchase.
This applies even if the car dealer itemises them on the sales invoice or invoices them separately. This is because the accessories form part of a single supply of a car, which is subject to the input tax block.
5.3 Buying the accessories later
If you buy accessories later and the vehicle is either owned by the business or used in the business but not owned by it (perhaps an employer or director’s own car), the VAT charged is not input tax unless the accessory has a business use.
5.4 Recovering VAT on other motoring expenses
The VAT you incur on all other business motoring expenses (perhaps fleet management charges or parking charges) is input tax and recoverable, subject to the normal rules. The VAT guide (Notice 700) and Notice 706: partial exemption give more information.
6. Private use of cars or other vehicles and charges to employees
6.1 Private use charges
If you have recovered 100% of the VAT on a car or other vehicle and then put this into private use, you may have to account for VAT.
6.2 Eligibility if the car has been subject to the 50% block
It does not apply if the car has been subject to the 50% block because the 50% block is a proxy for the private use of the car.
6.3 Cars bought under second hand margin scheme
VAT is due on the private use.
6.4 Work out the cost of providing the car or other vehicle for private use
If your employee pays nothing for the use of the car, you must account for VAT on the cost of making the car available for private use. This cost usually includes depreciation, repairs and other running costs, but not any VAT you have recovered as input tax.
6.5 Simplified methods
We have agreed simplified schemes for calculating the VAT due on the free private use of the stock in trade cars for motor manufacturers and dealers. There’s also a similar scheme agreed with the British Vehicle and Leasing Association.
Find more information in Notice 700/57: administrative agreements entered into with trade bodies.
6.6 VAT due if an employee pays a charge for the private use
If your employee pays a charge for the private use of the car or other vehicle, you must account for VAT on these charges.
7. Selling a car
7.1 Business sells a motor vehicle on which you have recovered VAT
If you sell a car on which you recovered VAT (perhaps a driving school car or a pool car) then you must account for output tax on the full selling price. You must issue a tax invoice to a VAT-registered buyer who requests one.
Sales of these vehicles are not exempt and they cannot be sold under the second hand margin scheme.
7.2 Your business sells a car on which VAT was blocked
If you sell a car where you were charged VAT but could not recover any of that VAT, then you do not have to charge VAT on the sale and cannot issue a tax invoice. This is because the sale of the car will be exempt. Any input tax charged, which directly relates to the sale (for example VAT on auction fees) is exempt input tax.
Find more information in Notice 706: partial exemption.
7.3 Your business sells a car where VAT was not charged
When you sell a car on which you were not charged VAT when you bought it (perhaps from a private individual or from a dealer who sold it under the VAT second hand margin scheme), you do not need to account for VAT on the full selling price if you sell it under the VAT margin scheme.
Under the margin scheme, you only account for VAT on the difference between your purchase price and your selling price.
Find more information about using the VAT margin scheme for second-hand vehicles.
7.4 Rules on the sale of commercial vehicles
If you sell a vehicle on which you were charged VAT when you bought it and you were entitled to recover at least part of the VAT, then you must account for output tax on the full selling price.
If you were not charged VAT (perhaps a van bought from a private individual) you may use the margin scheme for the sale of the vehicle.
Find more information in about using the VAT margin scheme for second-hand vehicles.
7.5 Buying an eligible vehicle from an insurance company or finance house
If acquired as a result of an insurance claim, or a finance house has repossessed it, you will not be charged VAT provided the vehicle:
- is sold on to you in exactly the same state
- was obtained by the insurance company, finance house from a person who would not have charged VAT on its supply, for example, a private individual
You can resell such vehicles using the margin scheme.
Find more information about using the VAT margin scheme for second-hand vehicles.
7.6 VAT rules on exported cars
If you export cars to a customer outside the UK, your supply is normally zero-rated provided that you meet the appropriate conditions.
Find more information in Notice 703: export of goods from the UK and about using the global accounting VAT margin scheme and VAT on movements of goods between Northern Ireland and the EU.
8. Electricity for charging electric vehicles
8.1 Who can reclaim input tax
VAT incurred by businesses when charging electric vehicles can be recovered on the business use of those vehicles, where the vehicles are charged at work or at public charging premises.
You can also recover the VAT for charging your electric vehicle if you’re a sole proprietor or a partner in a partnership business, and you charge your electric vehicle for business purposes at home.
You should work out how much of the cost of charging your electric vehicle is for business use and how much is for private use by keeping mileage records. The normal input tax rules then apply.
8.2 Employees charging an electric vehicle which is used for business at a public charging point
If an employee charges an electric vehicle (whether this is a company vehicle or not) at a public charging point, the supply of electricity is made to the company or employer. They can recover the VAT on the cost of charging the electric vehicle, subject to the normal rules.
The employer must keep detailed mileage records to work out how much of the charging cost is used for business and private purposes where applicable.
8.3 Employees charging an electric vehicle which is used for business at home
Where an employee charges an electric vehicle (whether this is a company vehicle or not) at home, the overall supply of electricity is made to the employee and not the employer.
The employer is not entitled to recover the VAT on the cost of charging the electric vehicle.
8.4 HMRC review
8.4.1 Electricity paid for by employees
We are considering the situation where an employee is reimbursed by the employer for the actual cost of electricity used in charging an electric vehicle for business purposes.
This is to determine what evidence can be practicably provided, to allow the employer to claim the related VAT, subject to the normal rules.
8.4.2 Simplification measures
We are also considering other simplification measures that may reduce administrative burdens in terms of accounting for VAT on private use.
9. Road fuel bought for business
9.1 VAT incurred on the road fuel paid by your business
There are 4 options but you may need to restrict the amount of VAT you deduct if your business is not fully taxable. The options are:
- claim the VAT charged — but strictly subject to guidance given in sections 9.2 and 9.3
- claim the VAT charged — subject to guidance given in sections 9.2 and 9.3, and apply the fuel scale charge
- use detailed mileage records to separate your business mileage from private mileage — read section 9.4 ‘Circumstances when you need to separate your business mileage from private mileage’ and section 11 ‘Charging for the private use of fuel bought by the business’
- claim no input tax — read section 9.6 ‘Not claiming any VAT’
9.2 Business not fully taxable
9.3 Circumstances when you claim all the VAT on road fuel
You can claim all the VAT on road fuel, (subject to partial exemption and non-business restrictions) (read section 9.2 ‘Business not fully taxable’) if your business funds:
- fuel bought for business motoring only
- both business and private motoring as long as you apply the appropriate fuel scale charge or account for VAT on the value of supplies of fuel for private use
9.4 Circumstances when you need to separate your business mileage from private mileage
If your business funds both business and private motoring and you wish to recover some of the VAT, but do not want to apply the fuel scale charge you must keep detailed mileage records to enable you to work out how much fuel is used for business and private motoring.
9.5 Working out the VAT on business mileage
The following section contains calculations.
If for example, your records show that the total mileage is 4,290, of which 3,165 is business mileage, and the total cost of the fuel is £368.
The cost of the business mileage is £368 × (3,165 ÷ 4,290) = £271.49
The input tax is £271.49 × VAT fraction (VAT rate ÷ 100 + VAT rate)
The cost of the private mileage is £368 × (1,125 ÷ 4,290) = £96.51
You may reclaim VAT incurred on the business mileage subject to any required partial exemption calculation.
9.6 Not claiming any VAT
If the total of your private and business mileage is very low you may find that the amount of VAT that you pay by applying the scale charges is more than the input tax that you can claim.
If you do not claim any input tax on any road fuel bought by the business, then you do not need to account for output tax on the private use of the fuel. This applies to all road fuel bought by the business, whether it’s used in cars or commercial vehicles.
9.7 Road fuel paid for by your employees
If you reimburse your employees for road fuel used you can treat the VAT they paid as your input tax. But you must be able to show that you have reimbursed them for their actual expenditure on the road fuel.
If fuel bought by your employees for business is put into private use, you must account for output tax on the private use using the scale charges or the value.
9.8 Working out your input tax if your employees are paid a mileage allowance
You work out your input tax by multiplying the fuel element of the mileage allowance by the VAT fraction. You can do this for all fuel bought (read section 10 ‘Scale charges’).
The allowance paid to employees must be based upon mileage actually done.
9.9 Keeping records of your employees’ mileage
If they’re paid a mileage allowance you must have records for each employee showing:
- the mileage travelled
- whether the journey is both business and private
- the cylinder capacity of the vehicle
- the rate of mileage allowance
- the amount of input tax claimed
9.10 Keeping invoices to recover VAT on fuel bought by employees on your behalf and used for business purposes
You need to keep invoices unless your employee buys the road fuel using fuel card, credit card or debit card provided by you as the employer.
You can recover VAT where road fuel is delivered to your employees and paid for by them on your behalf for use in your business. You must reimburse your employees for the cost of this fuel either on the basis of actual cost or by means of a mileage allowance.
From 1 January 2006, you must retain invoices issued to your employees when the fuel is delivered to them. This can be a full VAT invoice or a less detailed VAT invoice. Input tax may only be claimed on the cost of fuel for business use in making taxable supplies. As such, the invoices only need to cover this amount.
We accept that the amount of the invoice in many cases will not match the input tax claim in respect of business fuel in any one claim period and invoices may cover more than one period, particularly where fuel is bought towards the end of a period.
A claim cannot be supported by a VAT invoice which is dated after the dates covered by the claim. This means, in practice, that it may be advisable for employers to arrange for their employees who use, or may use, their cars for business purposes to retain all fuel invoices. This makes sure that, at the end of the claim period, the value of business fuel is covered by an invoice.
The input tax deduction rules with regard to partial exemption are unaffected by these changes.
The fuel prices per mile rates used to determine the business fuel cost remain unaffected. We publish rates on Company cars — advisory fuel rates for company cars but also accept rates set by recognised motoring agencies, such as the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) and the Automobile Association (AA).
10. Scale charges
10.1 A scale charge
A scale charge is a way of accounting for output tax on road fuel bought by a business for cars that is then put to private use. If you use the scale charge, you can recover all the VAT charged on road fuel without having to split your mileage between business and private use. The charge is worked out on a flat rate basis according to the carbon dioxide emissions of the car.
10.2 Accounting for output tax using the scale charge
You need to use the fuel scale charge table that has effect for the relevant accounting period. From 1 May 2014, if you opt to use the fuel scale charges, the tables (and notes to the tables) published by us have the force of law in accordance with Part 1 of schedule 6 to the VAT Act 1994.
The tables show the scale charges for each VAT period. You must account for output tax for each car in which your business fuel is made available for private use.
The scale charge for a particular vehicle is determined by its CO2 emissions figure. Where the CO2 emissions figure is not a multiple of 5, the figure is rounded down to the next multiple of 5 to determine the level of charge.
For a bi-fuel vehicle which has 2 CO2 emissions figures, the lower of the 2 figures should be used.
For cars which are too old to have a CO2 emissions figure, we have prescribed a level of emissions by reference to the vehicle’s engine capacity only (read section 10.4).
10.3 Applying the road fuel scale charge to all cars used in your business
You do not have to apply the scale charge to any car which is not made available for private use.
If you opt to use the scale charge you must use it for all cars in which your business fuel is made available for private use. It is not acceptable to use the scale charge for some cars and another method of accounting for the VAT due on the private use of the fuel bought by the business for other cars.
10.4 Getting the CO2 emissions figure for your vehicle
If your vehicle is registered:
- after 2001, the CO2 emissions figure for your vehicle appears on your Vehicle Registration Certificate (VC5)
- before 2001, you can get the the CO2 emissions figure from the Society of motor manufacturers and traders limited website (this hosts CO2 emissions for vehicles registered from 1997).
For vehicles which do not have a CO2 emissions figure, you should identify the CO2 band based on engine size. CO2 bands and corresponding engine sizes are published with the VAT fuel scale charge tables.
10.5 Including the figure on your VAT Return
Each period you should include the total amount of VAT to be accounted for on the VAT payable side of your VAT account.
10.6 Changing your car
If you change your car during a tax period and the new car is in a different category, for example, you change a CO2 band 210 car for a CO2 band 150 car, or a 1,300cc car for a 1,500cc car, you should account for VAT by apportioning the scale charges for the 2 categories. Or you can account for VAT on the higher of the scales instead of apportioning.
10.7 Keeping records if you’re using the scale charges table
You must keep records showing:
- the number of cars for which the scale charge is applied
- the CO2 band of each car
- the cylinder capacity of each car where a car is too old to have a CO2 emissions figure
- if a car is changed, your records should show the date of the change
You may find that you can adapt your normal business records to give this information.
11. Charging for the private use of fuel bought by the business
11.1 Accounting for output tax if you make a charge for private use of fuel bought by the business
VAT is due on the supply of fuel by the business. If you do not account for VAT by using the road fuel scale charge you must keep detailed mileage records for each car in which your business fuel is made available for private use.
If you charge for the private use of fuel and the charge is not below the purchase price, then you should account for VAT on the amount charged. If you account for all the private use in this way you may claim all the VAT incurred if you’re fully taxable, read section 9.2 ‘Business not fully taxable’.
11.2 Charging for private use of fuel that is below the purchase price
It is not acceptable to account for VAT on a nominal charge made for the private use of fuel bought by the business. There are special rules for accounting for VAT on supplies of fuel at below market value to connected persons such as employees or family (paragraph 2A of schedule 6 to the VAT Act 1994).
If you supply fuel at below cost price to connected persons you must adjust the VAT you account for to reflect the full open market value of the fuel supplied. You may do this by keeping detailed mileage records to work out the VAT due.
Alternatively, if you account for output tax using the appropriate scale charge for each car, this will satisfy the requirement to account for VAT at the open market value on the private use of business fuel where supplies are at below cost to connected persons.
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