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Business Tax Relief for Car Lease Rentals

Assuming that company car lease rental payments are spread evenly over the hire/lease period, tax relief on contract hire/lease rentals is based upon the business's accounting treatment of rentals paid.

Rentals Basis:

Where the cost of lease/hire rentals charged to the accounts each year is based upon the actual rentals paid then the tax relief is usually also based on the rentals paid during the accounting year. If rental payments are abnormally loaded into an accounting year (for example, if all the rentals for the entire lease period are paid in the first accounting year) then an adjustment is required to spread them over the entire hire/lease period.

Depreciation and Finance Charges Basis:

Where lease or hire rentals are split into depreciation and finance charges for accounting purposes the tax relief can be based on depreciation under the capital allowances rules, with a separate tax deduction for the finance charges implicit in the lease rentals (this is an approach used by some larger companies to follow accounting conventions for leased assets).

Tax Relief Restriction for Higher CO2 Emissions

Irrespective of the basis of tax relief, the amount allowed for tax relief purposes each year is restricted if the vehicle's CO2 emissions exceed a set threshold. At the time of publication the threshold is 110g/km and the restriction is 15% of the rentals after recovered VAT.

For example, if the total rentals in a business tax year after recovered VAT are £2000 then 15% of this (£300) is not tax deductible.

This means the tax deductible rentals for the year will be £1700 (£2000 - £300).

Where the business cannot recover VAT on the rentals (for example certain banks and insurance companies) see below.


If a "with maintenance" hire/lease is used the maintenance must be in a separate agreement to avoid the above restriction on tax relief applying to maintenance.

Documentation Fees

Documentation Fees are normally allowed as a 1st year cost of contract hire/leasing, subject to the 15% restriction above if the CO2 emissions exceed the threshold.

VAT on passenger car rentals

Tax relief on any unrecoverable VAT on rentals is restricted for cars with CO2 emissions exceeding the threshold using the same percentage (currently 15%) as for tax relief on the rental itself.


For the self-employed where the vehicle is used partly for non-business purposes, tax relief is apportioned according to the ratio of annual business miles to total annual miles.