The rate of vehicle tax paid on cars and other vehicles is determined by their engine size or fuel type and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, as well as when the car was first registered. All cars registered after March 1, 2001, for example, fall into one of 13 car tax bands, ranging from A to M. The bands are based on how many grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) a car emits per kilometre driven, with the annual tax set at up to £490. [caption id="attachment_146" align="aligncenter" width="400"]
Picture courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/exfordy/[/caption] For cars registered before March 1, 2001, meanwhile, there are just two tax bands: the first is for cars and light goods vehicles with an engine size of 1549cc or less and the second is for vehicles with engines above 1549cc. Those in the first tax band pay £144 a year, while those in the second band pay £225. There are also different rates for cars that are powered by a fuel other than petrol or diesel, as well as for motorbikes and brand new cars. The top annual rate payable on an alternative fuel car, for example, is slightly lower at £480, but a new car registering for its first tax disc can cost up to £1,065 to tax for a year if it has CO2 emissions of more than 225 grams per kilometre. So that’s an extra cost to bear in mind if you are planning to buy a powerful sports car from a showroom. For motorbikes, the rates range from £17 a year for those with engines of 150cc or less and £78 for those powered by engines of 600cc or more.
Paying your vehicle tax As a general rule, all registered vehicles that are kept or used on public roads must be taxed. The good news for drivers of cars that produce less than 100 grams per kilometre of CO2, for example, is that they fall into band A and are therefore exempt from road tax altogether (although they must still display a “nil rate” tax disc). That’s a big bonus when you consider that drivers of cars that emit 225 grams of CO2 per kilometre have to shell out almost £500 a year and new car owners can pay more than £1,000. Other vehicles that no tax needs to be paid on include those used to transport disabled people and so-called historic vehicles manufactured before January 1, 1973. Unfortunately for drivers of cars registered between 1973 and March 1, 2001, however, none have low-enough CO2 emissions to avoid vehicle tax completely, meaning their owners must pay at least £144 a year. That’s not to say you have to always find the full amount when your vehicle tax reminder arrives, though. If your vehicle falls into one of the higher rate tax bands, you can choose to pay every six months, rather than every year – whenever it was registered. Someone with a car registered after March 1, 2001 and in tax band D can therefore choose to pay £105 a year or £57.75 for six months. This option is not available to those with recent vehicles in tax bands A, B and C, probably because even those with cars in band C only pay £30 a year.
Checking your vehicle tax rate You can find out what tax band your car, or a car you are thinking of buying, falls into simply by checking on the Government website. You can find out how much the road tax on any vehicle will cost this way, all you need are the vehicle details, including the make, model and when it was first registered.