From 6 April 2020, the way in which carbon dioxide emissions for cars are measured is changing – moving from the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) (used for cars registered prior to 6 April 2020) to the Worldwide Light Testing Procedure (WLTP) for cars registered on or after 6 April 2020.
For an introductory period, the appropriate percentages for cars registered on or after 6 April 2020 are reduced – being two percentage points lower than cars with the same CO2 emissions registered prior to 6 April 2020 for 2020/21 and one percentage point lower for 2021/22. From 2022/23 the appropriate percentages are aligned regardless of which method is used to determine the emissions.
Zero emission cars
As part of the transition, the appropriate percentage for zero emission cars is reduced to 0% for 2020/21 and to 1% for 2021/22. This applies regardless of when the car was registered.
The charge was originally set at 2% for 2020/21 and 2021/22, and will revert to this level from 2022/23.
Electric company car drivers were already set to enjoy a tax reduction. The appropriate percentage for 2019/20 is 16% and was due to fall to 2% from 6 April 2020. However, the further reduction to 0% means that those who have opted for an electric company car can enjoy the benefit tax-free in 2020/21. Their employers will also be relieved of the associated Class 1A National Insurance charge.
Kim has an electric company car throughout 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22. The car has a list price of £32,000. Kim is a higher rate taxpayer.
In 2019/20, Kim is taxed on 16% of the list price – a taxable benefit of £5,120. As a higher rate taxpayer, the tax hit is £2,048 (40% of £5,120). Her employer must also pay Class 1 National Insurance of 13.8% on the taxable amount (£706.56).
In 2020/21, the appropriate percentage is 0% so there is no tax or Class 1A National Insurance to pay. This is a significant reduction compared to 2019/20.
In 2021/22, the charge is 1% of the list price, equal to £320, on which the tax is £128 (assuming a 40% tax rate) and the Class 1A National Insurance is £44.16.
From 2021/22 the charge is 2% of the list price – equal to £640.
Not quite zero emissions
It is also possible to enjoy a company car tax-free in 2020/21 if it is registered on or after 6 April 2020, has emissions of between 1 and 50g/km (measured under the WLTP) and an electric range of at least 130 miles.
The benefits of choosing electric cars from a tax perspective, as well as from an environmental one, are significant.