That’s because the Government has ditched the previous set of car tax bands for new cars – where charges were directly linked to CO2 emissions – in favour of a three-band set-up. This is in addition to first-year tax rates split into 13 bands depending upon the vehicle’s CO2 emissions.
What will I have to pay?
Sub-£40,000 zero-emission models will cost you nothing in tax – as with the previous road tax system – though those over £40k will be slapped with a £310 surcharge for the first five years. That means a total bill of £1550 before dropping to £0 from year six onwards.
Meanwhile, petrol and diesel models will be charged £140 per year – bar hybrids and alternative fuel models, which are charged £130 – with a first-year charge based on the car’s CO2 emissions. As with electric cars, there’s a £310-per-year surcharge for models that break through the £40,000 mark for the first five years.
Models that come in under 50g/km will cost just £10 in the first year, rising to £2000 for cars pumping out more than 255g/km. As with the standard road tax charge, £10 is cut from the annual bill for alternative fuel models – including hybrids, bioethanol, and LPG-powered machines.
Vehicle Excise Duty from 1 April 2017
|Emissions (CO2 g/km)||First-year rate||Standard rate|
|* Cars over £40,000 pay an annual £310 supplement for 5 years|
Vehicles built and purchased before 1 April 2017 will not be affected by these rates.
Additional year 1 charge for diesels that don’t meet new emissions tests
Real-world emissions are now high on the Government’s agenda and chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the 2017 Budget the first-year hike for diesel cars that fail to meet the latest emission standards.
This means that new diesel cars that fail to meet newly introduced RDE2 emissions targets from April 2018 will see their road tax bumped up one band – adding up to £500 to the amount owners have to stump up.
These new tests aim to gauge real-world emissions, with high-emitting models penalised with additional levies over rival cars. Models built before 1 April 2018 will not be subject to this new charge, however, and road tax rates return to normal after the first year.
Add too many options and your road tax charge could leap
Be aware, that it’s the list price that’s considered when slapping on the £310 surcharge – so if you go wild and add loads of options to a less pricey car, pushing it over the £40,000 mark, you’ll be liable for higher road tax costs.
The Government is continuing to offer Direct Debit and six-month options to make road tax more affordable, though you will have to pay a slight premium if you want to take advantage of these.
2018 road tax bands: which used cars are affected?
The new bands apply to new cars registered since 1 April 2017, therefore these will cover a vast majority of 17-plate models and all 67-plate models that follow.
There will be some 17-plate models registered between 1 March and 1 April 2017, however, that come under the old rules. With these cars the lower the emissions, the lower the road tax charge.
What about cars registered between 1 March 2001 and 31 March 2017?
Road tax is split across 13 bands for models registered between March 2001 and March 2017. This varies from as little as £0 for models with sub-100g/km CO2 emissions to £535 for those kicking out 255g/km or more.
Costs for alternative-fuel models are £10-per-year less, starting at £0 for sub-100g/km models rising to £525 for those emitting more than 255g/km.
Cars registered before 23 March 2006, meanwhile, are capped to a maximum of £305 – regardless of how polluting they are. Therefore, if you’re after an over-engined monster that belches out CO2 by the bucket load and was on sale over 2005 and 2006, going for a pre-March 2006 car could save you £230 per year in tax.
My car was registered before March 2001: how much do I have to pay?
Just two bands apply to pre-2001 models. If the engine size exceeds 1549cc you’ll have to stump up £245 every year, while those with a smaller engine are charged £150.
As with the other systems, Direct Debit and six-month options are available, providing a lower cost – though these will cost you more overall than simply paying for a whole year upfront.
Which cars are free to tax?
Go for a sub-£40,000 electric car registered after 1 April 2017 and you won’t have to open your wallet when renewal time comes.
You get much more choice of cars if you pick one registered between March 2001 and 2017 – anything that emits less than 100g/km won’t cost you a penny in road tax.
And if you’re open to driving a much older car, vehicles that are more than 40 years old are exempt from paying road tax full stop. So if you fancy tooling around in an MGB GT, Merc SL or VW Beetle, step this way.
If you’re on a budget, similar age cars that emit up to 120g/km will only cost you £20 per year in VED, so may also be worth considering.