A mixed bag of news on the UK economy last week

HMRC MOVE GOALPOSTS ON DOUBLE CAB PICK UPS – THEN U TURN

For many years double cab pick ups have been a popular alternative to a company car as they have been considered to be vans and therefore received a preferential benefit in kind charge. Well, last week HMRC said they will be amending their guidance effective from July 2024 following a tax case win in the Court of Appeal against the UK arm of Coca-Cola.

In the case of Coca-Cola, they supplied modified vans with rear windows and defined them as “crew-cabs”. 

The designated drivers were allowed to use them privately as well as for business use. Throughout the three levels of appeals, each court has decreed that as the vehicles are multi use and nor primarily for carrying goods, then they should be deemed to be “capable of private use” being the overarching definition used to determine benefit in kind on cars.

Would you believe it but within a week lobbying has resulted in a complete U Turn and a commitment to put the U Turn into the next Finance Bill in order to “avoid tax outcomes that could inadvertently harm farmers, van drivers and the UK’s economy” to quote the Financial Secretary to the Treasury!

Whilst the overarching position by HMRC has always been tough to argue against, we have had a couple of successes over the years in determining between vehicles subject to benefit in kind charge and pool vehicles where no benefit applies. I rather think this latest ruling will make arguments harder for less obvious cases but nevertheless we will look at each case on its own merits and advise accordingly.

PLANNING PERMISSION NEEDED FOR HOLIDAY LETS

Based on the article above, I am now wondering whether I will have to retract this item. From this summer the Government will introduce legislation to require owners of new short-term lets in England to secure planning permission to use their properties for short-term rentals. This should allow councils to control the number of licences issued in a particular area.

The rules are not retrospective and will not apply to properties already rented on a short-term basis. Under the reforms, set out in a consultation last year, councils will be given greater power to control short-term lets by making them subject to the planning process.

The proposed changes would see a new planning ‘use class’ created for short-term lets not used as a sole or main home. Existing dedicated short-term lets will automatically be reclassified into the new use class and will not require a planning application. The scale of the planning fees has not been confirmed; currently a material change of use fee ranges from £120 to £258 depending on the premises.

A mandatory national register will also be set up to detail all short-term lets, but the government stressed this would take a ‘light touch’ approach and would keep bureaucracy to a minimum. It is reviewing responses to an earlier consultation to decide whether registration would be required annually, or less frequently, the amount of information required and whether there should be an annual fee.

It is likely that HMRC and other enforcement agencies would have access to the register. The launch of the register was welcomed by Airbnb, who have been lobbying for it for some time.

AND FINALLY …..

Today, an old clip from the current king of one liners, Milton Jones. Enjoy the weekend, hopefully the rain will stop for the next round of Rugby 6 Nations.