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HMRC internal manual

VAT Input Tax

Motoring expenses: availability of cars for private use

The test of whether a car is available for private use (see VIT52700) is a test of the intention of the business when the car was bought. This means HMRC is interested in the question of whether a car has the potential for private use rather than if such use is likely. This is a significant test and HMRC will apply it strictly. The lead case on the test of availability is Upton (CM) (t/a Fagomatic) (see VIT64690).

It is likely that a car kept at the home premises of someone who runs a business will be available for private use no matter how many other cars that person has. HMRC will normally record comprehensive details of use.

If a business decides to appeal an HMRC decision about private use of a car the following information has been found to be useful:

  • who has access to the car and when;
  • what is there to stop the person(s) who has access to the car from using it to make private journeys during or outside normal working hours;
  • for what types of business journey is the car used;
  • what is the likelihood that the car will never be used for mixed business and private journeys;
  • what vehicles are used to perform private journeys;
  • what is the availability of these vehicles;
  • what happens when these vehicles are unavailable, for example when they are being serviced or used by other people;
  • whether the user keeps a log of journeys;
  • whether the car is insured for private use; and
  • whether the vehicle has any peculiar feature or adaptations for a particular kind of business use.