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Are There Cheap Ways to Pay Road Tax?

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 4 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
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Having to pay vehicle excise duty - or to give it it's common name - car tax or road tax, is a necessary evil if you want to drive a car on the road in the UK, or even just keep an vehicle - whether it is used or not - on a public road. The way road tax is calculated has been revamped completely over the last few years and is still undergoing some changes which are due to be implemented in the next year or two.

Bearing this in mind, a quick visit to the post office once or twice a year to tax your car seems to be a thing of the past. There are so many drivers on the roads now and so few post offices that issue car tax now compared with recent years, that if you forget to renew your road tax until the last minute, you can waste your entire Saturday morning queuing to buy it. The alternatives - waiting for a traffic warden or police officer to report you for not having or displaying a valid vehicle excise duty licence and facing a hefty fine and potential prosecution, or having your car towed away and destroyed - isn't really something you want to risk.

There are several different ways to pay your car tax: cheque, postal order, cash, debit card, over the internet and even by post office saving stamps. As it is a set price, the cost of the tax disc remains the same, although if you buy a 6 month licence rather than 12, you do pay slightly more over the course of 12 months - a 10% handling fee - so if you have a higher banded car then it can add up to quite a difference.

With the changes coming into the next year or two, it's a really good idea to find out how your car will be affected for more reasons than you might think. If you play it smart and do your research then you can end up saving yourself a few bob quite easily. If, for example, you have a car that falls into one of the lower bands - emitting less than 125g of Co2 per kilometre, you should only be thinking of buying yourself a 6 month licence this year - because when the new rate kicks in on 1 April 2009, you can buy yourself another 6 months road tax at the lower rate.

If, on the other hand, you drive a higher band vehicle that has Co2 emissions of 151g or more per kilometre, which is going to get more expensive to tax, you'd be better doing the opposite - buying a 12 month tax disc at the current rate - then you'll get 6 months or so at the lower rate (depending on when your licence needs renewing).

Changing your Car

The best way to bring down your road tax is to look at the vehicle that you are driving and if possible, upgrade to a car that will cost you less to tax. If you're driving one of the cars that is heading quickly towards the top of the road tax table - such as a 4x4 or a high performance vehicle, then this may well work out being a far more economical option in the long run.

Road Tax Refunds

Something a lot of people forget is that if they are not driving their car for a while then they can declare it off the road and get a refund on their car tax. This is only applicable if the car won't be driven at all and is kept on private land - in a private garage, for example. If it is taken onto a public road, or is seen parked on a public road at any time that it is declared as SORN, then the registered owner is liable to prosecution.

If you do need to get a refund, then once you send the disc back you should get a refund for each full month that is left to run. You will be charged a small administration fee and if you bought a 6 month disc then you won't get back the 10% extra you paid.

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