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Electric cars for employees

Charging paid for by company

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Although HMRC give some fairly comprehensive guidance on this topic none of the examples, per usual, cover my particular scenario. Company provides employee with electric car (mixed use). There are charging points at work, which is all well and good, but sometimes the employee needs to pay for charging at remoter locations, using the company credit card for payment. The closest scenario that HMRC discuss is employee charging at home and employer providing the electricity (no BIK etc). In this case, the charging is not at home but the real question is whether use of the company credit card amounts to the employer "providing" the electricity. Question is a short one - is there a charge (no pun intended) to income tax/NI?

All contributions welcome.

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By Paul Crowley
13th Jan 2021 15:53

In the good old days HMRC considered use of company card needed to be declared before filling up. If not a fictional NI charge due.
What a load of HMRC invented tosh

I only have one and will not be declaring BIK on electric tops-up until I see a tribunal decision on such

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
RLI
By lionofludesch
13th Jan 2021 16:02

Paul Crowley wrote:

In the good old days HMRC considered use of company card needed to be declared before filling up. If not a fictional NI charge due.

Jaysus ! Do I not need to do that any more ??

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Tax Dragon
13th Jan 2021 16:20

Fictional tax/NI?

Like in Peter Carey's The Tax Inspector?

Anyway I love a belligerent answer. "Never mind the law" [you'd probably say that in fewer words, one of them ending in k], "I ain't paying it unless Phil Mitchell* tells me to!" Wilson was, I suspect, after a bit more of a technical justification.

*Sticking with the theme of fiction.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By Paul Crowley
13th Jan 2021 16:52

Old days
If you filled the company car but did not declare use of card to cashier BEFORE filling then in addition to BIK on fuel there was a separate NIC due, on top of all other BIK, being use of co card for 'personal liability'
Tax irrelevant just full ERNIC and EENIC

For some stupid reason HMRC seemed only interested in company cars
The logic would still apply to all the truck drivers that paid with fuel card.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Tax Dragon
13th Jan 2021 17:24

Wait, so using the company card to pay a personal liability (the employee having bought her/himself some fuel) still counts as the company providing the fuel? In that case, you can use HMRC's old days argument against them and say that in Wilson's scenario the company is providing the lectric juice (even if the employee forgets to pre-declare the company card).

That's if you've stated it correctly.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
Psycho
By Wilson Philips
13th Jan 2021 18:35

I never fully understood HMRC’s position, taxing such payments as a fuel BIK, but NI’ing as earnings (being settlement of pecuniary liability). If I were to fill up my company car and pay for it personally, and ask for full reimbursement by my employer I would expect that reimbursement to be taxed and NI’d simply as additional earnings. End of. I don’t see why ‘incorrect’ use of the employer’s card should be treated any differently - it’s either provision of fuel by employer (BIK and Class 1A) or additional earnings, not both.

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Replying to Wilson Philips:
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By Tax Dragon
13th Jan 2021 18:54

Is that really what they say/said??!

"HMRC invented tosh" sounds about right! You've converted me, Paul. (With some help from Wilson.)

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By Wanderer
14th Jan 2021 13:34

Yes it's correct, HMRC used to spout that stuff from some ivory tower somewhere.

And considering that a petrol station cashier isn't the highest paid position and / or the position is often filled by a worker who doesn't have English as a first language HMRC's position was utterly preposterous in the real world.

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Replying to Wanderer:
RLI
By lionofludesch
14th Jan 2021 13:43

It's worth doing at least once - just to see the cashier's furrowed brow.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By Tax Dragon
14th Jan 2021 14:58

"Dear cashier, I am acting as agent for Lionofludesch Ltd ('The Company') in the transaction I am intending to perform (fuelling that car there). The car belongs to The Company. This is a card in the name of The Company. Were I to drive off without The Company paying, which payment will have to be on this card, it is The Company, not me, that your employer would have to sue. Do you (as agent for your employer) consent to these terms, before I fill up?"

"Dear non-customer, no. If The Company (as defined by you) wishes its car to be fuelled, you must yourself purchase the fuel. I will then be able to address you as 'Dear Customer'. Liability for non-payment by The Company must fall on you, not on my employer. My employer reserves the right to sue you, notwithstanding that that is not your vehicle. You may of course use that card, in the name of The Company, to settle your liability. That is between you and The Company."

You must have had hours of fun.

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Replying to Wanderer:
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By Tax Dragon
14th Jan 2021 14:45

I'm confused. (Again! :-))

If I use a company card (without pre-declaration) to buy my shopping, the payment will be treated (tax and NI) as basic earnings. (Unless my Aweb-educated accountant later stuck it to DLA without telling me, but let's momentarily park that.)

Wilson said (perhaps I misunderstood) that, if my shopping included fuel [for the company car], that bit would be hoicked out (for tax only - NIC not), as this would be seen* as the company providing me with fuel. So I'd get a whopping BIK hit I wasn't expecting. (But, having been NI'd as earnings, there's no class 1A.)

I get that pre-declaring/not pre-declaring is a farce, but I can see logic there - no pre-declaration, contract is with me, pre-declaration, contract is with the company. Real world, forget it.

I don't see logic in the HMRC position as Wilson reported it - the bit marked *.

But if that was/is HMRC's position, Wilson (all of us) can use that argument back at them re e-cars.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By Paul Crowley
14th Jan 2021 14:16

The tax on Fuel against personal liability would cancel out
The NI bit did not

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Tax Dragon
14th Jan 2021 14:45

Well, no - fuel BIK is likely way more. Especially this year!

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A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
13th Jan 2021 16:00

I'd say no on the grounds that electricity does not come under the definition of fuel for this purpose.

Edit - and that the supply is to the company being the owner of the car.

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
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By memyself-eye
13th Jan 2021 19:01

shocking answer, I'm going ohm in my Voltswagon

Getid...'Volts' wagon!

I wonder Watts on tv tonight.......

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Replying to memyself-eye:
Slim
By Slim
13th Jan 2021 19:23

thats a shocker

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Replying to memyself-eye:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
14th Jan 2021 11:10

Planet Earth. I watched it at ohm,

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
14th Jan 2021 11:13

.... sorry, repetition of ohm. Then I watched Joules Holland.

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By Dib
14th Jan 2021 13:21

I think we current-ly have amp-ple puns on this this topic now!

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
15th Jan 2021 15:17

Wilson Philips wrote:

The closest scenario that HMRC discuss is employee charging at home and employer providing the electricity (no BIK etc). In this case, the charging is not at home...


OK, so HMRC's for example of the employer providing the electricity at the employee's home envisages a scenario in which the employer installs a vehicle charging point at the employee's home. (As if that's going to happen!)

Their other scenario is one in which the employee uses his own electricity to charge the car from home, and is reimbursed by the employer. The reimbursement is taxable as earnings; mitigated by a proportionate deduction for the cost of business miles.

So, if you'll excuse my tin-pot approach, we're interested in the second scenario. Albeit let's establish the same tax treatment applies for the employee that uses his own electricity that he contracts for and draws from a third party's charging point.

For that, a quick trip to HMRC's "Check if you need to pay tax for charging an employee’s electric car " https://www.gov.uk/expenses-and-benefits-electric-company-cars

Q1 The employer owns the car and Q3 Mixed business and personal use are givens. So let's test drive Q2 "Who pays to charge the car?":

Possible answers:
(a) the employer (non taxable / no NI);
(b) the employee (non-taxable, employee claims for business mileage);
(c) the employee, reimbursed by the employer (taxable as "earnings", pay tax / NI; employee claims cost of business proportion of use).

So it's (a) or (c), as per your question. And, if it is (c), then HMRC's tool, above, confirms that there's essentially no difference between an employee using his own electric supply or that of a third party. And, for good measure, whatever the taxable reimbursed expense, it can be reduced by the business miles element.

Wilson Philips wrote:

...but the real question is whether use of the company credit card amounts to the employer "providing" the electricity. Question is a short one - is there a charge (no pun intended) to income tax/NI?

So, as others have covered, it's down to a contractual matter, as to the identities of the parties. For my money, that's got little to do with who actually pays (the company card v. the employee's personal card) but more importantly just who the attendant thought they (as their employer's agent) would be contracting with. Plain sailing in a petrol station, as the contract is performed as and when the fuel is drawn; so that any notice to the garage that they will be contracting not with the driver but with the employer must be given ahead of drawing the fuel. Otherwise the attendant is entitled to assume the contract is with the driver (together with its attendant bilking possibility, along the lines already outlined by Tax Dragon).

I know very little about third-party electric charging points, but I'll bet you a jam doughnut you have to pay up front (or at the very least pre-register your card). And that's where I see the contractual difference - the third party charging points establish up front just who the contracting parties are. So, having accepted the employer's card, the third party charging company is clearly contracting with the employer. In HMRC's perhaps over-simplistic parlance, the employer is paying. Different of course if the employee uses his own personal card.

And if I'm wrong, that is to say if it is the case that payment is made after the electric tank has been filled, then I suppose there's a secondary argument the same as that of any petrol filling station that the employee so-informed the attendant beforehand that his employer, not he, would be the contracting party. I'm not sure you'd need a tertiary argument for unmanned charging points - surely you pre-pay for those!?

Arthur's comment about electricity not being a road fuel: See 6.4 of https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploa... so no
benefit in kind for "electric fuel". But you knew that already - I'm tellin' my granny how to suck eggs again.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
By Paul D Utherone
16th Jan 2021 19:04

Charging stations generally have no human contact at all.

You will have either pre-registered:
- a keyfob linked to an account with a payment method; or
- an app with with a linked payment method; or
- there are now some PAYG chargers where you can pay with contactless.

You park up at a charger. Plug your car in, and initiate charging by chosen method.

For the keyfob, you tend to get a monthly account statement.
With the app you have your receipt in the app but depending on the facility may be charged there & then, or on a monthly statement.

The ICE model of: pulling up to a pump, filling up with fuel, and going into the shop to pay afterwards just does not happen with EV's - at least not in my experience

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Replying to Paul D Utherone:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
16th Jan 2021 20:15

Res ipsa loquitur.

I'm grateful to you for that good insider knowledge. And, to boot, I can cross off knowing someone who actually drives an electric car from my bucket list.

I've always suspected that the old conventional wisdom of a driver having to march into a filling station beforehand in order to inform the (no doubt astonished) staff that their employer was about to contract not with them, the driver, but instead with that driver's employer was made redundant by pay-pumps; those pumps where you pre-register your (or, alternatively someone else's such as for example your employer's) card for payment. Pre-pay fuel pumps, so far as the fuel station's contractual position is concerned, eliminate any doubt as to just who they (the fuel station) are contracting with. It's the cardholder. End of.

Might I impose on your good nature to enquire whether, to your knowledge, one pre-pays for the electric charge? In the same way, let's say, that you might pay in advance for a pre-pay fuel pump or, say again, a car wash at a filling station. Or, alternatively, is electric dispensed in the same way as regular petrol pump fuel, that is to say on trust of payment, so that the contact is made when the petrol/diesel/electric is dispensed and the subsequent payee (regardless of whether the driver or the employer) is not party to that contract?

IMHO that's the crux of the matter.

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