It makes a big difference whether a vehicle is treated as a Car or a Van for tax purposes, in summary:
- Benefit in Kind on Cars is linked to CO2 where as on a Van its Flat Rate (and could be zero if your private use is insignificant)
- Vans qualify for the Annual Investment Allowance, Cars have restricted Capital Allowances
- You can reclaim VAT on Vans but its much harder to reclaim VAT on cars
HMRC have some guidance in EIM23150….
Under this measure, a double cab pick-up that has a payload of 1 tonne (1,000kg) or more is accepted as a van for benefits purposes. Payload means gross vehicle weight (or design weight) less unoccupied kerb weight (care is needed when looking at manufacturers’ brochures as they sometimes define payload differently).
Under a separate agreement between Customs and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), a hard top consisting of metal, fibre glass or similar material, with or without windows, is accorded a generic weight of 45kg. Therefore the addition of a hard top to a double cab pick-up with an ex-works payload of 1,010 kg will convert the vehicle into a car (net payload reduced to 965 kg). Under this agreement, the weight of all other optional accessories is disregarded. HMRC has also adopted this treatment.
Kombi’s have been a grey area, but not any more, following the case of Noel Payne v HMRC as reported by Croner Taxwise…
Under ITEPA 2003 S.115, a van is a vehicle where its primary construction is for the conveyance of goods or burden. Kombi vans and those similar have not previously been thought to fall into this category due to them being designed to carry both goods and people. Historically, HMRC has offered a concession from 2002/2003 onwards for vehicles of a very similar construction, double cab pickups (including both uncovered and covered models), if the payload capacity of the pickup exceeds a metric tonne. HMRC accepts that these vehicles can be treated as a van for benefit in kind purposes.
With such similarities in the construction of the Kombi van, this has led to this concession being applied to the Kombi vans as well. However, in Noel Payne vs HMRC, a judgment was reached that the primary construction of the kombi van was not for the conveyance of goods alone but rather that its purpose was for the conveyance of both goods and people equally. This means that the Kombi did not meet the requirement to be considered to be a van and therefore for benefit in kind purposes it is a car.
The advice from Croner is that from now on Kombi’s and any van built to carry passengers should now be treated as a car for benefit in kind purposes, the case did involve a Vivaro as well but that was manufactured as a Van and later converted so that was allowed to be treated as a Van.
This also has implications for VAT and Capital Allowances.