Why a car allowance is never a good option for business driving

Car allowances are inherently wasteful, because they are assessed for both payroll and income tax, and better options exist to reimburse work driving.


What is a car allowance? A car allowance is a payment made by employers to employees for using their personal vehicle at work. It is paid in advance for driving. It is the same amount every month. The full allowance payment is taxed as income. It does not accurately reimburse for driving for work. 

How do you administer a car allowance plan? 

The employer chooses an amount of money to pay on a monthly basis to the drivers they deem eligible. Companies generally pay these together with paychecks. 

Why do companies choose allowances?

Companies only pay allowances when they are unfortunately unaware of the other, better options available in the market.

There are a variety of options for vehicle programs that are non taxable. These programs are better for managers and drivers, and when outsourced to Cardata they create no extra work for administrators.

What does Cardata think?

Under no circumstances does Cardata recommend car allowances. Although easy to administer, they are not tax efficient and they are not fair to drivers. 

Also, they disincentivize driving, because they often run out before the end of the month. Salespeople should not be made to pay out of pocket for legitimate business driving. Car allowances mean missed sales calls and forfeited business.

Cardata’s recommendation

If you want a program that resembles a car allowance plan, you can pay the Tax-Free Car Allowance through Cardata. It is very similar, but it has less tax waste, and leaves your company and your drivers with more money at the end of the month.

Call us now to find out how.

With all that in mind, we gave car allowance programs a score. Allowances received a poor grade of 2/9. They are easy to administer, but cost drivers and management in tax waste, leaving both employees and employers financially worse off.

Car allowance vehicle program scorecard

Companies with employees on the road choose Cardata. We empower employers to reimburse mileage offering outsourced administration, mobile mileage capture applications, and a full suite of reimbursement tools to simplify the administrative and financial burdens of vehicle operations.

We are the only vehicle reimbursement provider truly invested in supporting drivers, administrators, and executives. Cardata products and services are for all stakeholders.

Founded in 1999, Cardata was launched by former fleet executives who identified a need for a cost-effective and accurate way to reimburse drivers. Since our founding, we have built a 20-year track-record of delivering exceptional vehicle reimbursement solutions. Today, we serve companies ranging from smaller regional enterprises to Fortune 500.

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