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Can I claim a van on my tax return?

We've updated this guide on 6th October 2021

In the trades services industry, a lot of people ask, ‘Can I claim a van on my tax return?” 

This is really a question about expenses. As a member of the self-employed workforce, you’re able to deduct your business expenses when you calculate your tax bill. It helps to reduce the tax you pay on your income. As you’re in charge of declaring your untaxed income to HMRC and paying it every tax year, it’s also in your hands to manage your business versus personal expenses. 

What are business and personal expenses? 

As you might guess, business expenses are the things that you spend for your business. That could be something like any specialised clothes, uniform or your tools. A personal expense, in comparison, would be something like clothes that you buy to wear outside of work or dinner that you buy at a restaurant. 

We recommend opening a business account (or a personal bank account that you use for your business spending) to keep all of your finances separate and organised. 

When do I do my expenses?

There are two answers to this question. 

When it comes to recording your expenses, you should do this throughout the tax year – from 6th April to 5th April. It’s important that you have evidence of your spending that you can present to HMRC when you do your tax return. 

You deduct your expenses from your earnings when you calculate your tax bill. And this is done annually. If you need a hand with the calculation (which surely we all do?) take a look at our calculator below. 

Annual self-employment income
Self-employment expenses
Select tax year
Income after tax
Income tax
Total income tax
£12,500 taxed at 0%
£36,500 taxed at 20% : £7,300
Total NI contributions
Class 2 NI: £159
Class 4 NI at 9% : £3,555
What you’re left with

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How your income tax is calculated

As a self-employed you have to pay your income tax and national insurance contributions yourself during your annual self assessment. Our calculator helps you quickly assess how much payment is due.

However you may be eligible for a tax refund when:

  1. You already made tax payments for the year but your annual income ended up smaller than planned
  2. You have done things that qualify for tax relief (made private pension contributions, give to charity, etc)

In your case when you earn £49,000:

Income tax breakdown

You pay no income tax on first £12,500 that you make

You pay £7,300 at basic income tax rate (20%) on the next £36,500

So, can I claim a van on my tax return?

Yes, you can. But not always in the same way.

  • You can claim your van as a capital allowance
  • You cannot claim using the annual investment allowance
  • If you’re not eligible to claim the full cost of the van, you can claim:
    • Fuel
    • Licence fees
    • Breakdown cover
    • Vehicle insurance
    • Repairs and servicing
  • Speak to your accountant to see what you could claim

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