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Carl Chambers

UK car tax bands explained

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With each car in the UK having a classified tax band, we explain what each one means and how much you can expect to pay for road tax.

new cars in a row

In those smoggy old days when the environment wasn’t such an issue, drivers coughed up a flat-rate car tax, regardless of a vehicle’s emissions. 

But things began to change with the 1999 Budget, which announced a lower rate for cars with engines up to 1100cc, as they, in general, had less of an impact on climate change. 

And since 1 March 2001, vehicle excise duty (VED) has been set on a sliding scale according to CO2 emissions, with the lower a car’s emissions, the lower the tax payable.

In fact, because personal car travel produces some 13% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions. 

The government is so keen to get us driving green that it’s currently possible to pay zero road tax if you opt for a car that sits in the lowest CO2 emissions band. 

Something to consider if you’re trying to drive down the cost of motoring.

But what exactly is the lowest band, and how much do you have to pay if your car sits in one of the other dozen car tax groups?

Car tax bands and annual cost

Car tax bands
Band CO2 emissions (g/km) Standard cost Cost for first year
A Up to 100 £0 £0
B 101-110 £20 £0
C 111-120 £30 £0
D 121-130 £105 £0
E 131-140 £125 £125
F 141-150 £140 £140
G 151-165 £175 £175
H 166-175 £200 £285
I 176-185 £200 £335
J 186-200 £260 £475
I 201-225 £280 £620
L 226-255 £475 £840
M Over 255 £490 £1065

The cost for the first year can be significantly higher than the standard cost when buying a car from the higher tax brackets

This higher figure applies to the year that the car is first registered, and is designed to make people more aware about the environmental impact of their taste in cars.

In short, if you buy a brand-new gas-guzzling monstrosity, expect to pay through the nose for it.

In April 2017 a new, more streamlined system will be in place that could lead cars with lower emissions to pay more tax.

Tax for older cars

If your car was registered prior to March 2001, ignore all of the above – instead you’ll pay car tax based on engine size. 

Tax for older cars
Engine Size 12 Months Cost
Less than 1550 cc £140
1550 cc and over £225

Ways to pay car tax

You can pay vehicle excise duty online, by phone, at a Post Office, or by post

Online is your quickest and easiest option, and you’ll need the reference number from your V11 reminder or registration certificate (V5C) and a valid card with which to pay. 

You can also pay by phoning 0300 123 4321, in person at Post Office branches that issue tax discs, or by post to the address shown on the V11 (you should automatically receive this a few weeks before renewal).

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