Monthly Archives: February 2021

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.

Link: Electric Car Tax Benefits

Business insurance rates are on the rise

The impact of the pandemic has been felt in many different ways. Some of the effects have been quite immediate, but now many businesses are starting to see how the events of the last year are affecting their annual business insurance rates as well.

Before COVID-19 struck, there were already a number of factors adversely impacting the insurance industry and the market has steadily deteriorated during the last year. Beyond the pandemic, the industry has also been affected by:

  • Changes in legislation
  • A sharp rise in UK property rates
  • Flood and storm damage claims
  • Rising reinsurance rates and reducing capacity
  • Lower interest rates

The combined effect of these issues and COVID-19 has meant that many insurers are now looking to increase business insurance premiums in the year to come.

With many businesses already struggling with cost and cash flow management issues, a sudden increase in insurance rates could damage their ability to recover later in the year.

To combat some of the issues listed above, the insurance industry is reacting. One such area is specialist insurance for those in high flood risk areas, which uses a very practical approach.

If a business has previously been flooded, is at risk of flooding or has flood insurance in place, a new product has been created that is essentially a drain pipe attached to the outside of the premises.

When water levels reach a pre-agreed height on the drainpipe, the insurance policy pays out a pre-agreed sum of money immediately.

This new type of policy is not based on damage costs, like a traditional policy, and can be used as flood insurance or as cover for the excess on existing flood insurance.

This is one of several new insurance products on the market designed to reduce premiums, which is why businesses need to assess their current level of cover and the costs involved.

Link: Property insurance costs to keep rising in 2021