Fleet News

High performance import cars benefit from CO2 tax loophole

COMPANY car drivers could choose one of the highest performance cars on British roads and benefit from modest company car tax bills under next April's new emissions-based tax regime.

Cars like the imported Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI, which accelerates from 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds, will face a benefit charge of 25% of their P11D price because Government rules say that for cars registered since 1998 where no CO2 figure is available, tax should be levied according to engine size. Engines up to 1,400cc will qualify for a 15% tax rate, 25% for 1,401 - 2,000cc and 35% for engines above 2,000cc.

But car manufacturers could be issuing incorrect advice to fleet managers on high-performance grey imports, according to Lee Corrigan, fleet manager of Pharmacia. He revealed the problem after examining how a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI, sourced through Mitsubishi in the UK, would be taxed from April 2002. Mitsubishi advised him that as a high-performance car it would automatically be taxed at 35%.

But high-performance cars imported from Japan - even those officially imported by the manufacturer - are not rated for carbon dioxide emissions. So next April the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI and Mitsubishi FTO at 1,997cc and 1,998cc respectively, will fall into the 25% tax band.

Corrigan said: 'I think this just confirms the fact that many people are still unaware of the implications next year's tax changes. If manufacturers are confused what chance do we have as fleet controllers? They should be a valuable and accurate source of information.'

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