Are you thinking about buying a new (or new-to-you) car? Or maybe you're not sure what the latest rules and regulations about car tax are. Read on to find out what you need to know about what car tax you’ll need to pay.

Car tax, or vehicle excise duty (VED) is the tax you must pay on a motor vehicle with wheels (that includes cars, vans, and motorcycles) to use it on a public road. 

That’s why people sometimes refer to it as ‘road tax’, but that’s not what it’s officially called – because not all road users (like cyclists, pedestrians, or horse riders) pay it. 

How much does it cost to tax a car?

There’s no simple answer to this question, but generally in the first year of ownership, you’ll pay tax based on the car’s CO2 emissions. The fee ranges from £0-£2,245 per year. 

What you pay for car tax individually depends on several different factors, including how environmentally friendly the car is, what type of fuel it runs on, the engine size, whether the car is ‘historic’, and even whether you have a disability. The rates also differ in the first year of registering the car.

Diesel cars that don’t meet the Read Driving Emissions 2 (RDE2) standard for nitrogen oxide emissions are taxed at a higher rate. The car manufacturer can tell you if your car meets the standard or not. 

If your car is powered by bioethanol, liquid petroleum, or is a hybrid, you’ll pay different rates. Pure battery electric vehicles are exempt from car tax (you pay £0), and alternative fuel cars are subject to lower tax rates in the second year 1

Car tax rates when you first register your car

Tax rates on vehicles registered on or after 1st April 2017

CO2 emissions g/km

Diesel cars that meet the RDE2 standard and petrol cars

All other diesel cars

Alternative fuel cars

0

£0

£0

£0

1-50

£10

£25

£0

51-75

£25

£115

£15

76-90

£115

£140

£105

91-100

£140

£160

£130

101-110

£160

£180

£150

111-130

£180

£220

£170

131-150

£220

£555

£210

151-170

£555

£895

£545

171-190

£895

£1,345

£885

191-225

£1,345

£1,910

£1,335

226-255

£1,910

£2,245

£1,900

Over 255

£2,245

£2,245

£2,235

Car tax rates after the first year

Fuel type

Annual payment

Annual payment by Direct Debit

12 monthly payments by Direct Debit

Single 6 month payment

Single 6 month payment by Direct Debit

Petrol or diesel

£155

£155

£162.75

£82.25

£81.38

Electric

£0

N/A

N/A

£0

N/A

Alternative

£145

£145

£152.25

£79.75

£76.13

All these rates are accurate as of March 2022. Please check the Government's vehicle tax rates page for the most up-to-date information.

How are high-end new or second-hand cars affected by car tax?

With a list price of more than £40,000, you’ll pay an extra £335 in car tax for five years from the second time the car is taxed (unless you have a zero-emission vehicle). After the five-year period ends, you pay the standard rate as listed in the table above. 

For example, if you bought a petrol car worth £75,000 with a £115 tax rate, you’d pay £115 the first year and then £450 in tax (£115 + £335) for the next five years. 

This also applies to second-hand cars, and to new cars where discounts have been applied – so be sure you know how much the car you’re buying originally cost or you could get caught out.

How do I tax my car?

You can tax your car online using the Government's Tax your vehicle page. You’ll need a reference number from a recent reminder (V11) or warning letter from the DVLA, your vehicle log book (V5C) which must be in your name, and the green ‘new keeper’ slip if you’ve just bought it. 

You're required to tax your car even if you don't have to pay anything to tax it, for example, because you're vehicle is exempt 2. If you don't know if a car is taxed, you can find out using our handy car tax checker.

How to SORN your car

SORN stands for Statutory Off Road Notification. 

If you don’t drive your car and it’s not kept on a public road, for example if it’s kept on your drive or in a garage, you can declare it SORN. This means you won’t need to tax it.

If you don’t drive your car but it’s kept on a public road, you must still tax it.

You can fill out an online form to register your vehicle as SORN with the DVLA.

How to get a tax refund on your car

If you sell your car, no longer have it for a different reason, or you register it as SORN, you need to let the DVLA know.

When you do this, you'll automatically get a refund for any full months of remaining tax.

To let the DVLA know, you can use its Cancel your vehicle tax and get a refund page.

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