Van benefit from 2005/06: meaning of unavailable
Section 156(2) ITEPA 2003
The effect of a van being unavailable is explained at EIM22820.
A van is ‘unavailable’ on any day if the day:
- falls before the first day on which the van is available to the employee,
- falls after the last day on which the van is available to the employee, or
- falls within a period of 30 consecutive days or more throughout which the van is not available to the employee (note that they need not all be in the same tax year). For example, a van may be undergoing extensive repairs at a garage for at least 30 consecutive days. If the van is taken to the garage on 31 March and collected again on 1 May, the van is unavailable for the 30 day period from 1-30 April, 5 days in one tax year and 25 in the next.
This definition of unavailable relates solely to the type of period for which a van can be treated as unavailable. It does not attempt to define the underlying circumstances in which a van is either available or not available, which is a separate, although connected, issue. So in considering whether or not there is a period of unavailability that qualifies to reduce the amount of the van benefit charge there are two points to address:
- is the period itself one that can count as a period of unavailability (remember, any interruption in availability of the van must be at least 30 consecutive days to qualify) and
- do the facts show that the van was not available to the employee during that period?
The amount of the van benefit charge for that year of assessment will only be reduced if the answer to both questions is yes.
The word available is not defined in the legislation. So we apply its ordinary dictionary meaning of
“capable of being employed with advantage or turned to account; hence, capable of being made use of, at one’s disposal, within one’s reach” (Oxford English Dictionary), see EIM23300.
Note that there is no reduction if the van remains available to the employee, but the employee is not available to the van for some reason (for example, because of an extended time out of the country).
Although written in terms of cars, the principles in the following guidance apply equally to vans:
- EIM25170: examples of circumstances when we would accept that a van is not available
- EIM25175: examples of circumstances when we would not accept that a van is not available.
There is an example at EIM22872.