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A quick guide to car tax

On 1 April new rules changed how much tax you pay for brand new cars, potentially adding hundreds to the annual bill. But if you have a car registered before that date, you’re not affected.

To help you ensure your car is taxed, we’ve taken a look at some of the recent rule and payment changes. 

New VED rules

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is the tax you pay on your car, and the rates have all gone up. Now in the first year how much you pay depends on the carbon dioxide emissions of the vehicle.

Then every subsequent year is a flat rate based on the type of fuel used. Electric cars pay nothing, alternative fuels pay £130 a year, while petrol or diesel cars pay £140 a year. And if you have an expensive car with a list price of more than £40,000 you’ll be hit with an extra £310 a year for five years.

Pay no tax on your car for life

The new rules only apply to cars registered after 1 April 2017, so if you buy a nearly new or second hand car you can avoid paying tax on your car for as long as you drive it.

Only cars in “band A” were exempt from VED, and these tend to be smaller vehicles such as Ford Fiestas.

Timing it right

If you’re buying a new car, it’s worth knowing that you pay for the whole month, even if it’s part way through. This means you can’t part pay just for the tax you need and if you buy a car near the end of the month you’ll pay the full whack.

Car tax doesn’t transfer over

When you sell you old car, you also can’t sell it as “taxed”. The new owner will have to shell out for their own VED. And if you’re buying, that means you. You won’t be able to drive the car until it is taxed.

What makes this particularly annoying for drivers is you can’t transfer tax from one car to the next. So it’s very difficult to avoid buying two separate lots of VED. The only way to really avoid this is to sell your old car at the end of the month and wait a few days to buy the new car at the start of the next.

Pointless paper tax disc

It’s been two and a half years since the paper tax disc became obsolete – so if you’ve still got one in your window it’s not serving any purpose. Automatic number plate recognition is used to identify untaxed vehicles and offenders can face fines of up to £1,000.

Renewing your car tax

One of the issues that came up when the discs ceased to be issued is that the visual reminder for drivers to renew disappeared. You should still get a letter in the post reminding you, but it’s worth making a note in your diary.

Alternatively, it’s possible to pay by Direct Debit and have the payment leave your account automatically. Just make sure you’ve enough cash in there for when the money is due.

Checking payments have gone through

Getting a paper disc acted as evidence you’d paid, so check your payment has gone through and there hasn’t been an admin error or payment failure. You can check if your (or any) car is taxed on the Vehicle Enquiry website.

Watch out for email scams

With so much of the VED process now online, don’t get caught out by scammers trying to get you to share car or bank details. All transactions should be completed on GOV.UK to be sure you’re dealing with the DVLA.

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