Bloody tax-dodgers! (And there’s millions of ‘em)

Bloody Tax Dodgers

Some motorists feel they own the road because “they pay for it”. Some hate on cyclists for being ‘tax-dodgers’ even though roads are paid for by general taxation not road tax, which was finally abolished in 1937, a process started by Winston Churchill in 1926. [It's car tax, not road tax].

Those motorists who think road tax still exists must be awfully confused by cars which pay £0 VED. Here’s a class of car which looks like any other class of car but which, like cyclists, “doesn’t pay for the roads.”

Warning Tax Dodgers

In 2006, there were just 350 of these tax-dodging cars on the roads of the UK. Now there are nearly 50,000. According to a report from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (New Car CO2 Report, March 2011), there were 40,000 vehicles on Britain’s roads which emit under 100g/km so are exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty. According to the latest registration stats from the Department for Transport, there are 57,000 cars in VED band A.

Additionally, 38.2 percent of new cars have emissions of less than 130g/km so that’s 474,000 vehicles which pay no VED for the first year of ownership.

This means there are an awful lot of ‘road tax’ dodging cars driving about. Perhaps they might like our iPayRoadTax jerseys? But wait, there are many more ‘tax-dodgers’ out there. Millions, in fact.

Cars built before 1973 are classified as historic and are exempt from VED. In 2006, there were 307,407 such vehicles on the road.

Those ex-soldiers in receipt of war pensioners’ mobility supplement, are exempt from VED, and there are at least 18,340 individuals who have a VED-waiving WPA442 form.

Disabled drivers are also exempt from VED. in 2007, 1.12 million Vehicle Excise Duty exemptions were granted to disabled people.

American soldiers operating in Britain pay no VED on their imported cars. Emergency vehicles don’t pay VED, either. And that includes police cars, fire-engines, and ambulances and other health-service vehicles, of which there are 450,000 on the roads.

Road construction vehicles and gritters are also exempt from VED.

And guess what, QEII pays zero VED. It’s not just the Queen who gets away with it, other Royals do, too: no Crown vehicles pay Vehicle Excise Duty.

Ministerial cars don’t have to cough up, either. The entire fleet of vehicles operated by the Government Car and Despatch Agency (873 cars in 2008, 30 of which would be in the highest, most CO2-emitting car tax bands) is exempt from paying Vehicle Excise Duty.

Even been stuck behind a farm tractor on a rural road? That tractor doesn’t pay VED. In fact, agricultural vehicles are supplied with free tax discs. There are about 17,000 new tractors sold per year in the UK, with many thousands of older ones on farms across Britain.

All this means there are millions of officially-sanctioned “road tax dodgers” out there, benefitting from Britain’s road system yet not paying a penny of road tax. [There are unsanctioned “tax dodgers”, too. According to The Times, more than a million motorists choose to use a loophole in the DVLA’s payment system to skip some of the annual payment].

And these “road tax dodgers” are heavily subsidised by those who pay full whack for VED. According to a Freedom of Information request submitted to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, the cost of a tax disc is £1.47 for those bought at a Post Office, and 95p for those bought online.

Let’s keep it simple and say the cost to print, distribute and sell each VED disc is a quid. There are about 2 million vehicles which don’t pay VED. That’s two million quid of subsidy to get tax discs to those who don’t pay for them. Those motorists who want cyclists to “pay road tax” need to realise that bicycles, as non-polluting vehicles, would be classified as Band A vehicles and hence would have to pay nowt. With 25 million bicycles in ownership, that would be £25m to get each bicycle a valid tax disc. Do motorists really want to pay a lot extra for their VED to subsidise registration and duty compliance for millions of bicycles?

Of course, the Queen, disabled people, war pensioners and Government ministers do pay for roads. All UK tax-payers, not just motorists, pay for Britain’s roads. Gulp, even cyclists.

Roads are paid for from general and local taxation. This site aims to get organisations which ought to know better to stop calling VED, road tax. They should call it ‘car tax’, because that’s what it is.

So, why call the site iPayRoadTax.com? The reasons are here. And why does this all matter? Because a minority of mindless drivers don’t just vent their spleen online, they sometimes take out their aggression in the real-world, with their heavy, lethal vehicles. Motorists often swerve in front of cyclists; part of this is rage against the non-motorised machine but some of it is due to a nagging feeling that freeloaders should pay, or should get off the damn road!

THE OLD CHESTNUT: ‘ROAD TAX’ IS A FEE TO USE THE ROAD
Those who believe VED is fee to use roads sometimes use the seemingly-convincing ‘off-road’ argument:

“Doesn’t matter what you call it, VED/car tax/’road tax’, it’s a fee to use the public road because if you don’t pay it, you can’t drive on the public road. For instance, if I elect to use a vehicle off-road, I don’t need to pay VED. If I then choose to use the vehicle on a road, I would have to pay VED. If the vehicle emitted a certain amount of CO2, then yes that VED is currently free, but I would still have to get and display a tax disc in order to use the car on the road.”

But car tax isn’t a fee to use the road, it’s very much a tax on car emissions. Many cars, which use the public road, do not pay any ‘car tax’ because they emit less than 100gms of CO2. If car tax was a fee to use roads, electric cars and low-emissions cars wouldn’t be able to drive on UK roads.

Nor is it true that vehicles that will be driven off-the-public-highway – on private roads – don’t have to pay Vehicle Excise Duty.

VED is charged under section 1 of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994, as amended, “in respect of every mechanically propelled vehicle that … is used, or kept, on any public road in the United Kingdom”. For England, Wales and Northern Ireland ‘public road’ is defined in section 62(1) of the 1994 Act as “a road which is repairable at the public expense”; for Scotland a public road is defined in section 151 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, as amended, as “a road which a roads authority have a duty to maintain”. However, the DVLA has powers to clamp vehicles that are not on the public road if they are in breach of the VED continuous registration requirements. The explanatory notes to the Vehicle Excise Duty (Immobilisation, Removal and Disposal of Vehicles) (Amendment) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/2266) state:

The policy intention is to prevent evaders of vehicle excise duty from using off-road areas such as unadopted roads, commons, public car parks or roads maintained by Housing Associations to place themselves beyond the reach of the enforcement authorities.

Farmers can get ‘agricultural use’ exemptions from VED for their Land Rovers, so long as they only travel a mile or so on public highways. And in one special circumstance, cars which emit loads of CO2 can still drive on UK public roads without paying car tax. But only for a short distance. When a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) vehicle is going to a pre-arranged MOT test, and the vehicle has valid insurance for the journey, it can be driven on public roads without paying a penny for use of those roads.

Furthermore, if a car is registered in the UK but is never driven in the UK it still has to pay the UK’s Vehicle Excise Duty. So, a UK-bought car driven in France by a UK-born person who’s moved to France permanently, may never drive on UK roads but the car still has to pay VED. This is because it’s a tax on the car, not a fee to use the roads.

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NOTE: The cartoon included in the graphic at the top of the page – click for large version – is from Punch magazine, 1920.

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  • Anonymous

    NeilrnrnI lifted your quote and added it to this article: Licensed to Cycle. http://ipayroadtax.com/?p=85rnrnThanks.

  • Anonymous

    Great points, Neil.rnrnI shall shamelessly steal them and attempt to pass them off as my own.rnrnIn fact, I’ll roll it out into another story. I think it warrants it.rnrnThanks.

  • Anonymous

    I cycle a lot on the canals.
    Come summer, hardly a ride goes past without some SASOB coming out with the ‘cyclists don’t have any right to be on the towpath’ line. But up my sleeve i’ve got a British Waterways Cycle Permit. 100% of the SASOB’s have never heard of, let alone seen, a canals bike permit. Its an instant shutter-upper.

    A Band A tax discs for bikes would have the same effect. Rather than save the government money, the scheme should be argued for. Plus you have a National Cycle Register at no extra charge. Call for the ‘disc’ to be an embedded chip and you’ve also got an theft deterrent.

    So forget the semantics of Road Tax/Car Tax, there’s a lot to be gained by pressing for a ‘tax disc’ scheme for bikes .
    Play them at their own game, that’s what I say.

  • Anonymous

    Too true!rnrnAnd same as a lot of Scottish Lairds are direct descendants of rnmurdering, pillaging, raping Border Reivers.rnrnLanded aristocracy is 99 per cent about an evil ancestor who bumped rnoff somebody in the 15th Century – or often lots of bodies.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, the Queen! What can I say?rnThat she’s not even worthy of the crown, according to Tony Robinson who tookrntime off from digging historical sites to dig into Tudor records last year.rnApparently, Her Maj is descended from a bastard Tudor line. They were allrninto each others beds, same then as now.rnBig cover-up.rnHer crown belongs on the head of a sheep farmer in Australia.rnWhen Robinson informed him, he was highly amused.rnAnd he was able to confirm that his family line traces back to the Tudors!rnBuck House made no comment.rnrnCheers,rnKeithrnrnrn–

  • Anonymous

    The queen doesn’t even need to pass a driving test but can drive a car.

  • Anonymous

    I completely forgot about the tax thing – d’oh!

  • Anonymous

    Grey area – company cars are not free, you get taxed for having one for personal use and the package cost that whoever is paying will include the VED. This applies to “personal” leases as much as to company cars which makes it all the more confusing.rnrnBetter to not confuse things – and focus on the excemptions. Better yet – if one has been sucked into the argument – its worth noting that we (as cyclists) are, in fact, paying the same amount as for a Prius (or an Econetic Fiesta) which is a goody…

  • Anonymous

    How about the Queen, Keith? She not one of the worthies?!rnrnBloody tax-dodging, Land Rover and Bentley owning Royals!rnrn——rnrnTalking about a song, there’s the Taxman lyrics at the base of here:rnrnhttp://ipayroadtax.com/?p=149

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t realise there were so many “Bloody Tax Dodgers” – although I can see there are worthy sorts exempt, such as war veterans and disabled drivers.rnEnjoyed reading your rant – has the makings of a song. Someone should put it to music. rnCould end up in the charts.

  • Anonymous

    Good point well made!

  • Anonymous

    I was merely suggesting that the 5% of people who shout at you for not paying road tax will not be paying it themselves as they are in a company car doing the shouting (happened to me at Denton Roundabout last week).nn;)

  • Anonymous

    Good points, although I probably won’t be taking them up with any tank- rndrivers I happen to see.rnrnIt’s standard for diplomats to get away with blue murder!rnrnApparently, EU residents can stay here for 6 months without paying UK rnVED so long as their vehicle is taxed in country of residence. Police rnand DVLA enforces are meant to take note of this. Yeh, right.

  • Anonymous

    Yes. Agreed. But somebody somewhere is paying the dosh. Government rnministers and the Queen aren’t paying a penny, and ought to. I can rnsee the sense in the exemptions for other categories.

  • Anonymous

    Ooh, and don’t forget those crazy diplomats – I work in Mayfair, there’s 100s of them round here – they don’t pay car tax, or the congestion charge either. Next time I see the Consular General to Denmark pootling past in his car I’ll be sure to shout at him and tell him to get off the road he hasn’t paid for.rnrnAnd the ENTIRE British military doesn’t pay VED either.. so next time I see the household cavalry rumbling through town in their tanks I’ll be sure to let them know they don’t deserve to there and should be run off the road ‘cos they ‘don’t pay road tax’.rnrnExcellent observations, Mr Reid, let’s hope the message gets through!

  • Anonymous

    Don’t forget that probably 5% of people on the road are also in company cars so the company they work for pays the road tax and not them ;)

  • http://www.biking2work.co.uk/ jobysp

    Don't forget that probably 5% of people on the road are also in company cars so the company they work for pays the road tax and not them ;)

  • http://ibikelondon.blogspot.com/ MarkA

    Ooh, and don't forget those crazy diplomats – I work in Mayfair, there's 100s of them round here – they don't pay car tax, or the congestion charge either. Next time I see the Consular General to Denmark pootling past in his car I'll be sure to shout at him and tell him to get off the road he hasn't paid for.

    And the ENTIRE British military doesn't pay VED either.. so next time I see the household cavalry rumbling through town in their tanks I'll be sure to let them know they don't deserve to there and should be run off the road 'cos they 'don't pay road tax'.

    Excellent observations, Mr Reid, let's hope the message gets through!

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    Yes. Agreed. But somebody somewhere is paying the dosh. Government
    ministers and the Queen aren't paying a penny, and ought to. I can
    see the sense in the exemptions for other categories.

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    Good points, although I probably won't be taking them up with any tank-
    drivers I happen to see.

    It's standard for diplomats to get away with blue murder!

    Apparently, EU residents can stay here for 6 months without paying UK
    VED so long as their vehicle is taxed in country of residence. Police
    and DVLA enforces are meant to take note of this. Yeh, right.

  • http://www.biking2work.co.uk/ jobysp

    I was merely suggesting that the 5% of people who shout at you for not paying road tax will not be paying it themselves as they are in a company car doing the shouting (happened to me at Denton Roundabout last week).

    ;)

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    Good point well made!

  • keithbingham

    Didn't realise there were so many “Bloody Tax Dodgers” – although I can see there are worthy sorts exempt, such as war veterans and disabled drivers.
    Enjoyed reading your rant – has the makings of a song. Someone should put it to music.
    Could end up in the charts.

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    How about the Queen, Keith? She not one of the worthies?!

    Bloody tax-dodging, Land Rover and Bentley owning Royals!

    ——

    Talking about a song, there's the Taxman lyrics at the base of here:

    http://ipayroadtax.com/?p=149

  • http://twitter.com/recumbent James Murphy

    Grey area – company cars are not free, you get taxed for having one for personal use and the package cost that whoever is paying will include the VED. This applies to “personal” leases as much as to company cars which makes it all the more confusing.

    Better to not confuse things – and focus on the excemptions. Better yet – if one has been sucked into the argument – its worth noting that we (as cyclists) are, in fact, paying the same amount as for a Prius (or an Econetic Fiesta) which is a goody…

  • http://www.biking2work.co.uk/ jobysp

    I completely forgot about the tax thing – d'oh!

  • http://www.biking2work.co.uk/ jobysp

    The queen doesn't even need to pass a driving test but can drive a car.

  • keithbingham

    Ah, the Queen! What can I say?
    That she's not even worthy of the crown, according to Tony Robinson who took
    time off from digging historical sites to dig into Tudor records last year.
    Apparently, Her Maj is descended from a bastard Tudor line. They were all
    into each others beds, same then as now.
    Big cover-up.
    Her crown belongs on the head of a sheep farmer in Australia.
    When Robinson informed him, he was highly amused.
    And he was able to confirm that his family line traces back to the Tudors!
    Buck House made no comment.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    Too true!

    And same as a lot of Scottish Lairds are direct descendants of
    murdering, pillaging, raping Border Reivers.

    Landed aristocracy is 99 per cent about an evil ancestor who bumped
    off somebody in the 15th Century – or often lots of bodies.

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  • neilwheel

    I cycle a lot on the canals.
    Come summer, hardly a ride goes past without some SASOB coming out with the 'cyclists don't have any right to be on the towpath' line. But up my sleeve i've got a British Waterways Cycle Permit. 100% of the SASOB's have never heard of, let alone seen, a canals bike permit. Its an instant shutter-upper.

    A Band A tax discs for bikes would have the same effect. Rather than save the government money, the scheme should be argued for. Plus you have a National Cycle Register at no extra charge. Call for the 'disc' to be an embedded chip and you've also got an theft deterrent.

    So forget the semantics of Road Tax/Car Tax, there's a lot to be gained by pressing for a 'tax disc' scheme for bikes .
    Play them at their own game, that's what I say.

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    Great points, Neil.

    I shall shamelessly steal them and attempt to pass them off as my own.

    In fact, I'll roll it out into another story. I think it warrants it.

    Thanks.

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    Neil

    I lifted your quote and added it to this article: Licensed to Cycle. http://ipayroadtax.com/?p=85

    Thanks.

  • seg

    While you are right that VED is sucked into the government coffers and of course everyone's taxes go towards road maintenance, it is still the case that *most* car owners pay an extra tax which other road users do not. This makes it rather unfair. And the (correct) fact that “cyclists are no more tax dodgers than the Queen, disabled drivers or war pensioners” does not make it right – does it?
    PS When the taxing of road vehicles was introduced in Britain in 1921, the tax was called the 'road fund license' and it was collected by county councils who told people that money raised would only be used to fund roads.

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    Yes, car owners pay a tax. It's called 'car tax'. This is the whole
    point of the site. It's cars that are taxed; roads are paid for by us
    all, not just motorists (a shockingly common view, and something to
    poke at cyclists).

    County councils never promised motorists anything: it was Austen
    Chamberlain (Cons) adding his later voice to Lloyd George's famous
    1909 'People' Budget'. Chamberlain made the rash – and short-lived –
    promise that funds for the 'road board' (ie the road fund) would go
    only on roads. Customs & Excise and HM Treasury were aghast at this
    and worked tirelessly to weaken this link, the link was finally killed
    off in 1926 by Winston Churchill, acting on the advice of Treasury
    civil servants. HMRC and the Treasury hate any hypothacation of taxes.
    Churchill did too and made two famous 'Raids on the Road Fund'.

    Even when it was in existence, the road board was an ineffectual and
    riven institution. Only a small fraction of Britain's roads were ever
    paid for out of the 'road fund'. It was finally folded in 1937 but had
    been a lame duck since 1926.

    This page has history of the road fund. http://ipayroadtax.com/?p=54

    All of my facts can be checked in 'The Motor Car and Politics
    1896-1970' by William Plowden.

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  • tonyderidem

    i saw a police vehicle today with a tax disc out of date,on pointing this out to the officer,she replied “they are the queens vehicles,theyre exempt” i have photographic pictures on my phone taken today of the vehicle,and the disc.????????????????????

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    Nothing to do with the Queen. All emergency vehicles pay zero car tax.
    Still need an up to date tax disc, mind.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.fordpartsgateway.co.uk/ Ford Parts

    I think they were doing this because these roads were paid for from general and local taxation. This money involved actions also helped the motorist in maintaining the cleanliness and orderliness of the road. Everyone will be benefited though.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=104&uid=125914674118853#!/pages/Bring-back-tax-exemption-for-vehicles-over-25-years-old/125914674118853?v=info AbsinthTears

    We all know it's hard enough keeping an older vehicle on the road and for those of us who just miss out on the existing exemption it's bloody frustrating so im asking enough people to join to bring it back and see if we do something about it!

    http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=104&uid

  • http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=104&uid=125914674118853#!/pages/Bring-back-tax-exemption-for-vehicles-over-25-years-old/125914674118853?v=info AbsinthTears

    We all know it’s hard enough keeping an older vehicle on the road and for those of us who just miss out on the existing exemption it’s bloody frustrating so im asking enough people to join to bring it back and see if we do something about it!rnrnhttp://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=104&uid=125914674118853#!/pages/Bring-back-tax-exemption-for-vehicles-over-25-years-old/125914674118853?v=info

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  • Underseer

    What about all those freeloading pedestrians? None of them pay a direct ‘tax’ for their pavement usage. I presume this is also considered part of the highway. Am I going off at a tangent here?

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  • Jo

    On your comment as regards the US Forces( actuallly mostly USAF, not US Army)u00a0 not paying Road Tax is, incorrect. Our POV’s (Privately Owned Vehicles) are checked by our Security Forces Every time we go to work and are reminded if our Road Tax is about to Expire. Their POV’s pay the full amount of Road Tax, they are exempt from NOTHING. The GOV’s, however, are NATO Military Vehicles and so are exempt under the Status of Forces Agreement with NATO.