Cyclist Busts "Road Tax" Myth

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Alongside having a valid car insurance policy, UK drivers also need a valid tax disc to keep their car legally on the road. But, according to a new campaign, very few British motorists know the real name for the tax - or what it’s used for.

'I Pay Road Tax' is a website set up by prominent cycle journalist, Carlton Reid, and it highlights the fact that road tax itself was abolished by Winston Churchill’s government before World War II. Although the current tax is often referred to as road tax, since 1937 it has really been called ‘vehicle excise duty’; or ‘car tax’, for short. You may be surprised to learn that the money collected from car tax doesn’t go towards upkeep of roads, either.

Car tax is based on CO2 emissions. This is reflected in the pricing structure, as vehicles that emit less than 100g/km of CO2 don’t have to pay, while “gas guzzlers” emitting more than 255g/km of CO2 pay £1,065 in the first year and £490 following that.

Revenue from the tax goes straight into the General Treasury fund, which pays for things like hospitals and schools. The upkeep of public roads is paid for with local government taxes, and everyone contributes: not just drivers.

While the mis-labelling of the tax may seem inconsequential, Reid argues that it has been the cause of friction between Britain’s cyclists and drivers. His blog showcases examples of motorists who believe that they have more right to use the roads than cyclists, due to the fact that they pay “road tax”.

Although a lot of the evidence on the blog is anecdotal, there are some statistics that show Reid’s concerns may be true. According to research from Consumer Intelligence, a third of British motorists believe that cyclists should pay “road tax” if they use public roads, while nearly two thirds believe that cyclists should also have compulsory insurance.

The campaign aims to put paid to the phrase "I pay road tax!" once and for all, and encourage drivers to be more tolerant towards cyclists.

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