Double cab pick-ups are popular vehicles in company fleets. Essentially, these vehicles are pick-up trucks, but they have a cabin with two rows of seats and four doors. This means they work well as company and family cars, as well as for transporting items.

It’s this dual nature that led HMRC to review the tax rules relating to these vehicles. Guidance on a new set of rules went live on 12th February 2024. This has now been archived because HMRC withdrew the proposed new rules on 19th February.

In this post, we look at how the government U-turn happened and what it means for you.

What were the proposed rule changes for double cab pick-ups?

Currently, for VAT purposes, HMRC classes double cab pick-ups over one tonne as a van. Vehicles under a tonne are classed as a car.

However, a recent court case threw doubt on whether this test was adequate. In 2020, a court ruled that Coca-Cola’s Vauxhall Vivaros and VW Transporter T5 Kombis were in fact cars, not vans.

This was one factor that led HMRC to announce that, from 1st July 2024, ‘most if not all’ double cab pick-ups would be classed as cars. This was ‘because typically these vehicles are equally suited to convey passengers and goods and have no predominant suitability.’

What the changes would have meant businesses and employees

When HMRC defines a vehicle as a van rather than a car, it also has implications for income tax and benefits in kind.

Let’s take the example of a £40,000 double cab pick-up with CO2 emissions of 160km/g. As you can see from the table below, the reclassification of the vehicle as a car would have significantly increased the benefit in kind charges.

Basic rate taxpayer Current rules Proposed rules
Tax on vehicle benefit £792.00 £2960.00
Tax on the fuel benefit £151.40 £2057.20
Total tax due £943.40 £5017.20


Higher rate taxpayer Current rules Proposed rules
Tax on vehicle benefit £1584.00 £5920.00
Tax on fuel benefit £302.80 £4114.40
Total tax due £1886.80 £10034.40


The change would also increased the Class 1A National Insurance paid by the employer.

Why the U-turn on double cab pick-ups?

HMRC had announced transitional arrangements. Essentially vehicles ordered, leased or bought before 1st July would have been subject to the old rules. Despite this, farmers and the motoring industry vigorously protested the changes.

A joint update from HMRC and the Treasury explained that it had decided to listen. The update says:

The government has acknowledged that the 2020 [Coca-Cola] court decision and resultant guidance update could have an impact on businesses and individuals in a way that is not consistent with the government’s wider aims to support businesses, including vital motoring and farming industries.

As a result, the old rules relating to double cab pick-ups will be reinstated. Government has announced it will legislate to ensure that these vehicles continue to be treated as goods vehicles when they have a payload of over one tonne.

Next steps for company fleets

If you want to provide employees with double cab pick-ups, then it will remain an economical option if the vehicles are over one tonne.

That said, for the future, you may wish to reconsider what kinds of vehicle you provide. Currently, there are significant tax breaks available for electric vehicles. If you’d like more advice on making your company fleet tax efficient, talk to one of our accountants today.

Need further advice on any of the topics being discussed? Get in touch and see how we can help.

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    About Mark Ingle

    Owner-manager business specialist, Mark Ingle is key to building relationships with clients at the Chelmsford office. “I like to see clients enterprises grow and succeed.” Mark explains, “The team here has a lot to offer and I can see a lot of new businesses responding to that.”

    Having worked for accountancy practices in London and Essex, Mark has worked with a range of companies varying in size. For Mark, THP stands out for its “local firm approach with the resources of a larger practice.”

    Although a keen traveller, Mark is focused on giving his clients at THP the highest service, “Right now, I aim to help the clients we have to the best of my ability which will help me attract more of the right clients in the future.”

    Mark’s specialist skills:

    • Annual and Management Accounts
    • Tax and VAT
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