HP agreement or  PCP agreement, the VAT position

Motor vehicle acquisition comes with a verity of different options and PCP has assumed in recent times a large percentage of the market, below is the explanation relating the Vat recovery and the rules applicable.

In case of a hire purchase agreement, it is stipulated  that title will pass at the end of the term of the agreement, whereas lease agreements, with large balloon payments  may end with the lessee walking away from the agreement.

Some final payments, or payments due at the end of the term of the agreements, are referred to as option payments. These payments are often very small such that it is very unlikely that the customer would not make the payment. In these circumstances, it is clear at the outset of the contract that in the normal course of events title will pass and therefore there is a supply of goods at the outset.

The importance of this distinction between a supply of goods and a supply of services is the impact on the timing of VAT recovery. In a supply of goods, the VAT is chargeable and therefore recoverable at the outset and the VAT invoice/finance agreement should show the VAT as a “lump sum” amount payable upfront and the monthly finance payment should be net of any VAT.

Conversely, in a supply of leasing services, the VAT is chargeable and therefore recoverable on each periodic payment and a VAT schedule should be provided by the finance company detailing these payments.

So far so good you may think until presented with a PCP arrangement, where multiple options are available to the lessee and the option payment is substantial. Could it be reasonably argued that ownership will pass in the normal course of events? This was considered in the CJEU case Mercedes Benz Financial Services.

The Court arrived at the conclusion that a judgment must be made by the supplier at the outset of the contract as to what the customer, acting as a rational economic actor, would do when entitled to exercise the option.

If the customer could profitably sell the asset for more than the cost of the final optional payment, then if they act rationally it can be expected that they will buy the asset. However, if the optional payment is expected to be the approximate open market value of the asset (or more) at the time the option must be exercised, then the customer may equally choose to purchase the asset or return it. Under such circumstances, it is not the case that in the normal course of events title is to pass.

As such the correct treatment of PCP contracts will depend on the level at which the final optional payment is set:

  • If at the start of the contract, it is set at or above the anticipated market value of the goods, it is a supply of leasing with VAT on each instalment;
  • If at the start of the contract, it is set below the anticipated market value, such that a rational customer would buy the asset when they exercise the option, it is a supply of goods with a separate supply of finance. VAT is due on the supply of goods in full at the outset and the finance is exempt from VAT.

Consequently, the timing of VAT recovery will depend on the type of agreement and the lessee should be directed by the lessor’s treatment.

Disclaimer Notice

The information contained in this  article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute advice, Whilst we endeavour to keep the information up-to-date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability for a particular purpose. We recommend that professional advise should be taken from a suitably qualified expert before undertaking any action.

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