HANDING back company car keys or fobs to employers can be one way of avoiding benefit-in-kind taxation during the coronavirus lockdown – but it needs careful management, the Association of Fleet Professionals has warned.
Co-chair Caroline Sandall said that during lockdown, many people face potential hardship and being able to avoid BiK could make a genuine difference.
While it has been established in principle with HMRC that key handback is a definite option, there are some points on which we remain unclear.
She said: “The main immediate problem that needs to be avoided is employees simply pushing their keys back through the letterboxes of unattended offices, something of which we have heard several reports.
“For your employer and HMRC, this doesn’t create an audit trail showing when the key was returned or to who, which is something that may need to be ultimately established to the satisfaction of either or both.”
Sandell said this also creates a possible fleet management problem for the future. If running a single or limited badge fleet, you could find yourself with a pile of identical keys and no means of working out how to link them to a particular vehicle.
There is also quite a high probability that keys will be lost and replacing them is always expensive.”
Also, where are company cars were being left while they are being unused?
Sandell said: “There is a health and safety issue here. Clearly, no employee should be leaving their car or van on the road if they don’t have the keys because they may need to move it in an emergency. Even if it is parked on their drive, they may still require urgent access.
“If the vehicle is being parked or stored elsewhere, then security becomes a concern, as does its ongoing condition. There is certainly an argument for the car or van to be properly inspected before it is accepted as being handed back, and that regular checks afterwards are needed.
“Finally, if the crisis situation persists for some months, as seems not unlikely, then you should consider the usual issues surrounding long-term vehicle storage, from flat batteries to seized brakes. All of these matters should be examined by fleet managers.”