The advantages of electric vehicle salary sacrifice schemes
Businesses looking to reward and retain staff members may wish to consider offering an electric vehicle (EV) salary sacrifice scheme.
Not only are many EVs better for the environment, but they could also offer businesses considerable savings.
Businesses can use employee salary sacrifice – similar to schemes offered for pension contributions, cycle to work schemes and childcare vouchers – to fund the purchase of new EVs in a tax-efficient manner.
In principle, salary sacrifice is simple, the employee ‘sacrifices’ part of their salary and the employer invests this in a benefit – in this case, an EV. Using salary sacrifice saves the employee National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and Income Tax.
However, in recent years HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has taken a tougher approach to many salary sacrifice schemes, which has often made them less effective.
Thankfully, a special exemption was put in place for ultra-low emission vehicles to encourage motorists to swap their petrol and diesel cars for electric and hybrid models.
When this was confirmed it was made clear that the provision of an EV via salary sacrifice would be considered a benefit-in-kind.
Initially, the benefit-in-kind, or BiK rate, on a pure electric car was 16 per cent, which in many cases meant that there was little or no benefit.
However, following changes in April last year, all pure electric cars now have a zero BiK rate and salary sacrifice benefits can be felt in full.
The zero per cent rate also applies to hybrid vehicles that are first registered from 6 April 2020 that produce between one and 50g/km of CO2 and are capable of at least 130 miles on battery power alone.
The change in rates coincided with more complex rules regarding emission and economy tests, which determine rates for vehicles including hybrids, which may have an impact on existing hybrids acquired via salary sacrifice.
The Treasury has recognised that the older tests may unfairly disadvantage some company hybrid car users and so to achieve fairness it has reduced the BiK rates used for older car models.
This reduction will fall to one per cent in the 2021/22 financial year and will disappear altogether in the following year. This means that there will be no reduction in its BiK rate for these vehicles from April 2022.
People looking to purchase a new company car in the next year should review the Government’s latest rates, which can be found here. Be aware though that these rates change annually and may differ after April 2021.
There are several other tax incentives for both company car users and the businesses that offer this benefit, especially where it is used for business purposes, including:
- Corporation Tax relief
- Reclaiming VAT on a vehicle purchase
- Lower vehicle excise duty
- Plug-in grants
- Tax-efficient electric car charging points
It is not surprising, as technology advances, that more businesses are considering EV salary sacrifice or the purchasing of a fully electric or hybrid fleet.
Beyond the immediate tax benefits for a company, the employer should also look at the advantages that offering a company car can have on retaining staff.
Offering EV salary sacrifice is an excellent way of rewarding employees in a tax-efficient manner that doesn’t incur significant costs for the business or the employee.
Looking further ahead, the Government is now committed to a ban on the sale of new purely petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, which is now less than a decade away.