Motoring Discussion > Is that a Van or not? Miscellaneous
Thread Author: Bromptonaut Replies: 8

 Is that a Van or not? - Bromptonaut
I've long been on a mailing list from the courts where I get a heads up for interesting judgments. Some are cases of national controversy well covered by the press, most are anodyne and/or technical. One this week that I thought was of some motoring interest. An appeal from the Upper Tribunal to the Court of Appeal concerning whether certain vehicles supplied to employees for their work are vans or not. Less tax if they are.

The vehicles concerned were provided by Coca Cola UK to its service technicians. Some were VW Transporter T5 Kombis Others were Vauxhall Vivaros (a badge engineered Renault Trafic at the time).

The Kombis came as standard with seating behind the driver and side windows. The Vivaros were converted to a similar specification with seats/windows added. Steel bulkheads were fitted behind the rear seats. Both had some racking in the 'middle compartment' where rear seats were for tools and equipment. The seats in the Kombi were removable without tools, those in the Vivaro were not.

HMRC initially assessed both vehicles as (effectively) cars and issued assessments to tax for the users and NI to the employer on that basis. The employers and two employees appealed to the First-tier Tribunal which found that while the Vivaro was a good vehicle (van) the Kombi was not.

The taxpayers/company appealed the Kombi decision to the Upper Tribunal. HMRC appealed similarly on Vivaro. Both taking points of law about the relevant legisaltion. The Upper Tribunal, with some variation in reasoning, agreed the decision at first instance.

The Court of Appeal disagreed and found both vehicles to be the same for tax purposes; neither is primarily suited to the conveyance of goods.

I thought it quite interesting and suitable for discussion here.

Court of Appeal's Judgment is linked below:

Last edited by: Bromptonaut on Wed 22 Jul 20 at 17:02
 Is that a Van or not? - R.P.
Could have a effect on cases where Kombi drivers have been convicted of speeding, whereby the vehicle is considered a "van" and not a "car"...
 Is that a Van or not? - tyrednemotional
A test case might do, but I doubt it.

The legislation in this case is much more clearly tied to the nature of the homologation of the vehicle in category M or N.
 Is that a Van or not? - Bill Payer
Just strikes me as pathetic on the part of HMRC. It's a work vehicle with incidental private use.

An easy way to not pay tax and NI would be to declare the vehicles unavailable for private use. So then the employee has to buy and park another vehicle - so we get even more vans stuck in residential areas that don't move outside normal working hours.
 Is that a Van or not? - Bill Payer
I meant to add - I suppose it becomes tricky depending on the employees' job function. Are these sales reps trying to get around the rules, or installation/repair staff carrying tools / equiopment etc?
 Is that a Van or not? - Boxsterboy
I've not read the judgement, but why does the employer supply vans with seats if not to be used as a private vehicle outside of working hours (and therefore not solely for business use)?

A few years ago I bought an ex-Zip Taps Transporter Kombi like this. Mine was of an age that it was registered M1 but I understand they are now registered N1. The difference to the speed limits (on dual carriage-way A roads is important!)
 Is that a Van or not? - Bromptonaut
>> Just strikes me as pathetic on the part of HMRC. It's a work vehicle with
>> incidental private use.

For whatever reason a company car costs the user more in tax than a company van. I'd argue for a different regime where a car that's a tool for the job rather than part of a 'benefit package' gets treated in same way as a van but that's not where we are.

Given the difference I suspect that HMRC have a 'little list' of vans that have, for example, a second row of seats and might be used like cars. Various VW models including the example here and the smaller Golf like Combi would be on that list. The latter, excepting the absence of a third set of windows is very similar to my Berlingo Multispace.

I suspect the Vauxhall vans were picked up as collateral damage for the employees.
 Is that a Van or not? - No FM2R
>>Just strikes me as pathetic on the part of HMRC. It's a work vehicle with incidental private use.

Dead easy to avoid tax; Keep it at work and don't take it home other than when on call.

However, if you don't need to buy a personal car because you have a works vehicle, then that's pushing it even on just on to & from, but is absolutely a benefit for anything else.

The gap they are plugging is not the plumber or electrician who takes his vehicle home. What they don't want is the hoards of supervisors and managers who will immediately decide they need a works van despite never carrying tools or materials, or even going out on a job.

It's happened before. BT, wasn't it? Or it might have been the Post Office.
Last edited by: No FM2R on Sat 22 Aug 20 at 23:34
 Is that a Van or not? - bathtub tom
>>It's happened before. BT, wasn't it?

And they used to have free parking in central London, really annoyed those in the rest of the country.
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