/ Money, Motoring

Your views on the new car tax rules

Car tax

We recently debated the changes to car tax, which come into force from April 2017. A number of you weren’t so keen on the changes…

Our resident cars expert Adrian Porter wrote in detail about the changes to Vehicle Excise Duty on 1 April.

He explained that after April 2017, all new cars will have two rates of car tax. The first year rate is based on the amount of CO2 a car emits. But from the second year, a standard rate kicks in – £140 per year, for every car, regardless of how much CO2 they emit (only zero-emission cars are exempt). Plus if the car costs over £40,000, you’ll pay an extra £310 per year for five years.

New car tax rules

Jean wasn’t impressed:

‘I am flabbergasted!! It couldn’t be more complicated if it tried!!!’

In response to the new rules, Ian argued that:

‘Zero or low car tax for low emission vehicles is a sign that the government cares about the quality of the environment and the health of those living in urban conurbations. This move shows the opposite.’

However, Steve disagreed. He felt that a flat rate of tax was fair:

‘All vehicles should be taxed the same amount no matter what size engine or type as they all use the same roads!’

A tax on fuel

Dermot0 argued that owners should be taxed according to their usage:

‘If car tax is really about providing a good quality road system rather than raising money for the government’s coffers, then owners should be taxed according to use. The reasonable way to do this is to do away with road tax altogether and put the tax on fuel – that way those who burn more fuel will pay more tax and those who use the roads the most will also pay more.’

In fact, it would seem that a fair few people backed this idea of only having a tax on fuel. Fairforall explained that there were problems with this:

‘I’d love the idea of having just the tax on fuel, where the more you use the more you pay… I’m really up for it. Not fair to those who are on low salary who have to do a lot of miles to their place of work. But I can’t help thinking the extra costs would affect the goods you buy where the goods transportation costs would rise, giving excuse for all goods and food to be price hiked. But, on the other hand, would the distribution companies offset to this by not paying the VED? Or could they get special less fuel tax as a distribution business.’

What do you think about the changes to Vehicle Excise Duty? Do you think they’re fair?


It’s hard to see any sense at all in the new VED system, particularly the exemption for electric vehicles. Granted they do offer benefits in urban pollution, but they only offer significant reductions in CO2 emissions if they are charged with electricity from low pollution sources – renewable or nuclear. As the UK grid is supplied using predominantly fossil fuels, then most electric cars will be nearly as polluting overall as those running on petrol or diesel. Then there’s the CO2 and chemical pollution involved in the manufacture and recycling of the batteries to consider. In the near term, the best hope for CO2 reduction is with hybrid vehicles, which offer much better overall fuel efficiency and have smaller batteries than all-electric vehicles, so they should be the ones that pay the lowest VED in a sensible system. The first-year stage of VED is ridiculous tokenism. The system as a whole shows the government has no real interest in controlling CO2 emissions.

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I would be obliged is Which? would stop using the term “pollution” in describing Carbon Dioxide. It is a mild greenhouse gas without which almost no life on earth could survive. In no way can it be described as a pollutant.
The most recent work in terms of assessing climate sensitivity (temperature increase from a doubling of CO2 concentration) using real world data indicates CS is low. Other work shows the value, for example via improvement in the biosphere including agriculture, of atmospheric enrichment of CO2 is to the tune of $140bn/year. Putting these together, for example via Integrated Assessment Models, indicates that the social cost of carbon may be negative, i.e we should be paid to emit it. This is another reason why CO2 is not a pollutant.
If Which? is to keep its credentials as a consumer association basing its finding on empirical testing, then it must remain impartial of the global warming alarm, and ideally stick to science.

I agree that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant (Patrick does not say it is in his introduction), but there is no doubt that driving cars has an environmental impact, with real pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulates, whether these are produced on our roads or elsewhere, as with electric cars. There is also the undisputed fact that we are using up our fossil fuel reserves and there is the environmental impact of finding more for future generations.

I’m sure there’s a lot of science involved in the global warming alarm.

Personally, I do not doubt that global warming is happening, so I favour precautionary approaches that will mitigate its effects and/or its advancement.

Like many others, I have been in favour of more efficient energy usage and greener energy technologies for many years, going back to long before global warming was raised as an issue. As wavechange said reducing pollution and conserving scare resources are also valid reasons for favouring these approaches.

Brian Burgess says:
25 June 2016

I complained to my MP about VED changes, stating the benefits achieved (cheats excepted) by the car industry responding to the VED banding. He stated that he agreed with the chancellor, that the varied VED is unfair on those who cannot afford a new car. How ridiculous, are we to stop the purchase of anything that the whole of society cannot afford. This sounds to me more like those with authority complaining at having to pay extra for their guzzling cars. Put the VED on the price of petrol, let the petrol gobblers pay more that way.

isn’t Which? initiating a campaing against this change that once again shows how this government is against any environment protection action?

I don’t really see that VED, at its present cost, really has much impact on the environment. It won’t deter people buying gas guzzlers, nor I suspect incentivise those buying expensive electric or hybrid vehicles. Fuel is a much more expensive component for most people and if we are intent on looking after the pennies this is where we will look.

At present we leave the choice of using up oil and pushing out noxious emissions to those who have the money to pay. Not a good way of looking after the environment, particularly in town and cities. Money – tax, congestion charges. low emission zones where you can pay extra to use them – should not be a way of enabling you to pollute where you please. Prohibitions applicable to all would be the only fair way. So during peak times, to minimise pollution, we should restrict access to towns and cities to protect the health of all those present. Reducing pollution levels surely should be the aim, not allowing people to pay to cause harm.

I suspect road tax has a major impact at the point of sale, interestingly. Certainly, sales of gas guzzlers have risen dramatically since the road tax change was announced.

As the owner of a hybrid model, as well as trying to do my little bit for the environment, a definite incentive to purchase was the zero-rated VED. Surely, with new research findings, we all need to be encouraged to move away from diesel and high-emission vehicles.? The so-called gas-guzzlers will pay more fuel tax, true, but by and large they pollute more and should not be classed the same as a low-emission vehicle. Penalising owners of cars costing £40,000+ with a £310 supplement based on nothing else than cost is ridiculous and arbitrary as purchasers of these high-end vehicles will successfully haggle to get the price down to £39,999 and some of them my well be low-emission/electric anyway.
With a new administration now in government Which? should be campaigning to have these changes overturned or at least demand a rethink. I intend to lobby my MP on the matter.

I imagine the VED charge will be based in the list price – like benefit in kind – rather than the haggled price. We should certainly be aiming to reduce pollution, not allowing polluters to pay their way out, especially in towns and cities..

The new system seems to have nothing to do with emissions of the really noxious gases. In fact, the first year charge for a new vehicle costing over £40000 has absolutely nothing to do with emissions at all. On that basis, taking the new Skoda Kodiaq as an example, it is quite possible to have near identical cars, one at 39k and one at just over the 40k mark simply by adding or removing options from the build. How on earth is that right or fair?

More worrying is the absolute lack of any action to tackle old diesel cars which are the most polluting. Looking at the VED rates it would take decades to recover the cost of replacing these, I know this because I run one. A 2006 Skoda Superb 1.9 diesel with 215k miles on the clock and still going strong. Even if the VED went up to £500 that represents about 40 years of zero VED on the next car just to break even. I shall run this car until it will drive no further and then go and buy another 3 grand car of similar size/efficiency/age. There is no incentive to do anything else to be frank, certainly nothing to make me splash out on the latest and greatest car at tens of thousands of pounds just to save a couple of hundred quid on VED.

The answer, as noted by many on here seems to be to put the tax on fuel. Those who use the most pay the most. That seems perfectly equitable to me and it would seem to encourage the buying of fuel efficient vehicles, be they petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric. After all, there can only be so many pollutants in a litre of diesel so a car which will go 15 miles on this must be less polluting than a car which will only go 3 or 4 miles.

The cynic in me says this is nothing to do with pollution/emissions/fuel efficiency, but everything to do with trying to balance an unhealthy set of public finances.

Alan Sly says:
23 February 2017

This is totally unfair. I have a 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX and have to pay £500. A 1 year old car with the same emissions will only pay £140. What is the justification for this?

My point is that I feel that the present Government Car Taxation can encourage higher carbon dioxide emissions.
I am forced to pay £300 per year to tax my 16 year old car. I currently travel approximately 3000 miles per year but would like to keep the car for only occasional and emergency use. In order to justify the high fixed charge I need to make greater use of the car (resulting in increased emissions). I am sure that this applies to many, especially elderly, motorists.
I wrote to the government to voice my concern but were told that they could not reply to my letter.

I agree. The government car tax system does encourage increased mileage, carbon emissions, pollution and road congestion.