Car tax is mandatory upon all vehicle owners with a roadworthy car. Through this article, we will explore in detail the different tax classes that apply to the varied classification of vehicles used on public roads in the UK. Additionally, we will also explain the different tax rates for private cars and the logistics of how car tax payments are made.

What Tax Class Is My Car?

Depending on their construction and the purpose for which vehicles are used, tax classes are classified as per the below list by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA):

  • Private/Light Goods
  • Petrol Car
  • Diesel Car
  • Alternative Fuel Car
  • Light Goods Vehicle
  • Euro 4 Light Goods Vehicle
  • Euro 5 Light Goods Vehicle
  • Heavy Goods Vehicle
  • Private/Heavy Goods Vehicle
  • Special Types
  • Haulage Vehicles
  • Buse
  • Motorcycle
  • Small Island Vehicles
  • Rescue Vehicle
  • Special Concessionary
  • Emergency Vehicle
  • Exempt Vehicle

In the case of private vehicles, the car tax due upon them depends on (a) their engine type which determines the type of fuel the vehicle consumes and (b) the co2 emissions (these are calculated separately for the first year of registration and then for subsequent years).

Your first tax payment for the next 12 months after registering your vehicle can be classified as per the below table:

CO2 Emissions (g/km)Diesel Cars (TC49)Petrol Cars (TC48)(GBP)All Other Diesel Cars(GBP)Alternative Fuel Cars (TC59)(GBP)
0000
1-5010250
51-752511515
76-90115140105
91-100140160130
101-110160180150
111-130180220170
131-150220555210
151-170555895545
171-1908951,345885
191-2251,3451,9101,335
226-2551,9102.2451,900
Over 2552,2452.2452,235

From the second year onwards, your car tax payments will be classified as follows:

Fuel typeSingle 12 month paymentSingle 12 month payment by Direct DebitTotal of 12 monthly payments by Direct DebitSingle 6 month paymentSingle 6 month payment by Direct Debit
Petrol or Diesel£155£155£162.75£85.25£81.38
Electric£0N/AN/AN/AN/A
Alternative£145£145£152.25£79.75£76.13

Alternative fuel vehicles include hybrids, bioethanol and liquid petroleum gas.

If your vehicle has a list price above £40,000, you will have to pay an additional £335 annually for a period of years, starting from the second year of the vehicle’s registration. If your vehicle is a zero-emission one, you will not have to pay this amount.

How Long Does It Take For Car Tax To Show Online?

According to the DVLA, it can take up to 5 working days for renewed car tax to show online. Car tax payments can be made through local post offices registered to handle car tax services. You may use a debit card, credit card or direct debit facility to make your car tax payment(s).

To pay your car tax online from the post office, you will need the following documents;

  • Your V11 letter
  • An MOT test certificate
  • The amount of payment mentioned in the V11 letter

In the case of debit or credit payments, you will be charged an additional surcharge of 5 per cent; unless you pay the full amount of car tax on an annual basis in advance. The DVLA takes monthly payments for car tax on the first day of each month. However, car owners can choose to make car tax payments on a monthly or six-monthly basis.

You can check the status of your car tax payment via the DVLA’s Vehicle Enquiry System. At the same time, you will get an update regarding the insurance payments of your vehicle as well.

How Soon Can Car Tax Be Paid Before The End Of The Month?

You can tax your car 2 months in advance before your current car tax expires; however, if your car tax expires at the end of the month, you can pay the amount by the 5th day of the month. These payments can either be through cheque, postal order, online or through direct debit.

If you are making an advance payment, you will need the following documents:

  • Your vehicle registration certificate or logbook
  • An application for advance payment along with reasons 
  • Complete V10 form for vehicle tax and V85 form in case of a heavy good vehicle
  • An MOT or goods vehicle testing (GVT) certificate (in case you need one) 
  • A cheque, postal order or banker’s draft with the full amount payable to DVLA Swansea

Can I Tax My Car At The Post Office?

Yes, you can tax your car at the post office if (a) the post office deals with car tax and (b) you have the following documents with you:

  • a V5C vehicle certificate/logbook registered in your name, or
  • a V62 application for a registration certificate 
  • a new keeper slip if you’ve just bought the car 
  • an MOT test certificate

If it is the first time that you are making a Direct Debit payment, you will need the following:

  • your address 
  • your date of birth
  • your bank or building society account details

Can I Tax My Car Without A Logbook?

Yes, you may be able to pay your car tax without a V5 (your car logbook) if the vehicle is registered in your name. 

If you have received a V11 reminder notice from the DVLA which states the vehicle owner’s name and the amount of car tax due for the next tax term, you can use it as proof of identification. If it is a new vehicle you will need a V5C/2 Green slip that is issued to new car owners while the ownership of their vehicle is transferred from the previous owner. However, if the car is not registered in your name, neither can you pay car tax, nor drive it on public roads.

In the permanent absence of a V5, your car will be declared as SORN; Statuary Off-Road Notification until the new logbook arrives which can take up to a few weeks’ time. You must apply for a V5 immediately for a fee of £25, in case you have not done so. Not carrying your logbook can lead to a penalty being charged by the DVLA.

How Are Vehicle Tax Rates Calculated?

Rates of vehicle tax in the UK are calculated on the basis of a few factors including the engine size and CO2 emissions of the car.

However, the UK road tax system is divided into two separate rates. The first rate applies during the first year of a car on the road when its CO2 emissions are also accounted for while calculating the tax rate. It may range from £0 for zero-emission cars to £2,245 for cars that emit 255g/km or more.

From the second year onwards, the CO2 emissions will not account for road tax, rather the original cost of the car will be considered for calculations.

Cars that are valued at or above £40,000 will be taxed a further £335 annual supplement that runs for five years. After this time-lapse, they will be taxed at the current tax rate applicable during the tax term.

The current (2021-22) road tax is set at a flat rate of £155. This is an increase from £150 in the 2020/2021 financial year) to adjust for inflation. There’s a £10 annual discount for alternatively fuelled vehicles such as hybrids, mild hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Therefore, their owners pay £145 annually.

How Should I Tax My Car?

If you have purchased a brand new car and you are the first owner, dealers usually arrange for payment for your car tax. Most of the time your car tax is included along with the price of your car and any registration fee that is to be levied. 

In the case of a second-hand car, if the dealer does not arrange a logbook transfer to your name, you can do the same by contacting the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) on their website. However, it is advisable to purchase a vehicle with an updated logbook to avoid the impression of fraud or the purchase of a stolen car; as well as to maintain regular payments of car tax.

Will I Get Fined If I Forgot To Tax My Car?

Yes, you will be fined by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if you forgot to tax your car. 

If your car is not taxed and is found on the road by the authorities, you will be fined £80 for driving an untaxed vehicle. If you pay the fine within 28 days, the amount will be halved and you will only have to pay £40. However, if you do not pay the fine within the stipulated time, the amount can increase to £1,000 and you can be taken to court or your vehicle can be clamped so that it cannot be driven until the fine is paid.  

If you do not intend to run your car on public roads, you are not required to pay your car tax. Instead, you should apply for Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) through your local post office dealing with car tax.

Who Is Exempted From Paying Car Tax?

Anyone with a roadworthy vehicle in the UK is required to pay Road Tax (also referred to as car tax, vehicle tax or road fund license), as this is a mandatory, annual payment enforced by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. However, the following vehicles are exempt from Road Tax:

  • Cars used by a disabled person
  • Disabled passenger vehicles
  • Electric vehicles
  • Historic vehicles
  • Mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs
  • Mowing machines
  • Steam vehicles
  • Vehicles used for agriculture, horticulture and forestry

Conclusion:

From this detailed discussion on vehicle classification and their tax rates, we can conclude that vehicles may be classed on the basis of their construction and purpose of use while their tax rates are determined on the basis of the engine type/fuel consumed and CO2 emissions. Car tax is a mandatory payment that can conveniently be made through various channels such as direct debit, bank transfer, postal office or cheque. To avoid being fined, car owners must assure that their car tax payments are made on time.

FAQs: What Tax Class Is My Car?

Is my car private light goods?

Cars with not more than 3,500kg revenue weight that have been registered before March 2001 are classed as being Private/Light Goods (PLG) vehicles, or private motor cars or goods vehicles. These are further subdivided on the basis of engine size as over 1549 cc and under 1549cc.

What determines the tax on a car?

In addition to the year of being registered, the engine type or type of fuel being consumed as well as the degree of CO2 emissions from your car will determine the tax rate that applies to it.

Can a car be classed as a goods vehicle?

A vehicle with a design weight of more than 3,500 kg and one that is suited for the conveyance of goods can be classed as a goods vehicle.

What does HMRC classify as a commercial vehicle?

A commercial vehicle is defined by HMRC as one that weighs at least 3.5 tonnes, can haul 1 tonne of cargo and is used for business purposes only.

Are cars exempt from road tax?

Only electric cars with zero CO2 emissions are exempt from road tax payments.

References:

Notes about tax classes

Change your vehicle’s tax class – GOV.UK

Car tax bands explained | MoneyHelper

Rates of vehicle tax

Vehicle tax rates – GOV.UK

Check if a vehicle is taxed – GOV.UK

How To Tax A Car: Car Tax Guide (2022 Update) | Motorway

What-happens-if-you-forget-to-tax-your-car

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