Q. I have recently started a new job and, for the first time in my career, I have been provided with a company car. I have to pay for fuel for private use but my employer says I can claim mileage for business journeys. Will I have to pay tax on fuel payments?
A. In addition to the company car benefit charge, employees have to pay tax on any fuel their employer provides that is used for private mileage. For 2016-17 you would calculate this amount by multiplying the car’s CO2 percentage by £22,200. So, if the percentage is 28, the tax charge for petrol is £6,216. For a basic rate taxpayer, the after-tax cash equivalent is £1,243 and for a higher rate taxpayer £2,486. The charge is the same regardless of whether you use 2 litres or 2,000 litres of fuel.
However, this tax charge can be avoided if you pay all the private fuel costs back to your employer. You need to keep accurate records (mileage logs and fuel receipts) to support such a claim to HMRC.
Your employer can give you a tax-free fuel allowance if you pay for fuel used for business travel in your company car. HMRC publish new advisory fuel rates four times a year. The most recent rates, apply from 1 September 2016.
Rates currently range from 11p per mile for smaller petrol cars (under 1400cc); 13p for those with engines between 1401cc and 2000cc; and 20p per mile for larger petrol cars (over 2000cc). Lower rates apply for cars using cheaper liquid petroleum gas (LPG), ranging from 7p (1400cc or less); 9p (1401cc to 2000cc); and 13p (over 2000cc). Rates for cars with diesel engines currently range from 9p per mile for cars with engines of 1600cc or less; 11p per mile for those with engines of 1601cc to 2000cc; and 13p per mile for those with engines larger than 2000cc. Petrol hybrid cars are treated as petrol cars for this purpose.
HMRC accept that, where an employer reimburses an employee for the cost of fuel for business mileage in a company car at the above rates, no taxable benefit arises.
A full list of past and current mileage rates can be found on the HMRC website https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/advisory-fuel-rates.