Car website gets it, motoring mum doesn’t

On the same day that car comparison website published an article about the ‘road tax’ myth, helmetcam cyclist Magnatom posted a video where a woman motorist, who had been sat in bumper-to-bumper congestion, is seen to tell the cyclist “Go and pay some road tax, you’re holding everyone up.” She also added an expletive.

Carbuzz is a price comparison website which aggregates newspaper and magazine reviews of cars to formulate an overall score. On Thursday it published an article – ‘What drivers can do to be more cyclist aware’ – that has been retweeted 1200+ times and has had 668 Facebook likes. On Friday it followed up with ‘Road tax doesn’t exist’.

Carbuzz founder James Hinds wrote:

“Road tax doesn’t exist, it was abolished in 1937. What we have today is a tax on vehicles, not a tax that pays for roads. The term ‘road tax’ is therefore well past its sell-by date and is misleading at best, a mistaken belief in entitlement at worst.

“Here at carbuzz we’re committed to trying to make car research easier and less confusing. So we want to encourage fellow car sites and enthusiasts to stop referring to road tax and instead call it either car tax or its official name, VED (Vehicle Excise Duty).

“Cyclists sometimes get abused by motorists who yell that they should “get off the road” as they “don’t pay road tax.”

“Unfortunately there is plenty of video evidence of angry motorists verbally and physically abusing cyclists for this supposed non-payment even though 2 million motorists don’t pay VED either.

“From now on at carbuzz we’ll only be referring to car tax. We’ve already changed our stats pages for each car, so it now refers to ‘Tax per year’, to avoid all confusion.”

Carbuzz asked to proof read the copy and used one of our Winston Churchill graphics. It’s good to see a car site stick up for cyclists, and get it right on ‘road tax’.

The iPayRoadTax campaign aims to get motoring and other organisations to stop referring to Vehicle Excise Duty as ‘road tax’. Successes include AA, WHich?Car, and the Plain English Campaign.

A few months ago a debate was conducted on Twitter with Matthew Sinclair, chief exec of the TaxPayers’ Alliance. He said ‘road tax’ was in general use so he was happy to keep using the term. However, in the TPA’s latest report – ‘Excessive taxes on motorists in each council area in the UK’ – there’s no mention of ‘road tax’. The organisation sticks to vehicle excise duty. Not that the report was correct: it still asserted that motoring taxes ought to be spent on roads, a position easily rebutted.

When the tabloid press ran the TPA’s story, ‘motoring taxes’ morphed into ‘road tax’. The Sun, for instance, ran the headline ‘Treasury’s £18bn roads rip-off. £31.5bn earnings from fuel & road tax. £13.4bn spent on roads & environment.’

The tabloid press will be the hardest nut to crack but if AA and car websites can be convinced to use the correct terminology, one day – one day – perhaps the red-tops will get it right too?


Does the wilful misuse of the term ‘road tax’ bother you? Wear the iPayRoadTax jersey and tell the world!