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The Non-existent Tax

Everybody’s favourite tax is the kind which doesn’t exist. That certainly must be true of UK road tax, which is a deeply engrained subject of debate in this country but which was apparently discontinued in 1937!

What drivers need to remember next time they find themselves grumbling about cyclists paying no road tax is that neither do they. It is the long-established Vehicle Excise Duty that extracts an annual toll on their pockets. It deliberately does not go directly to maintaining the roads and, at present, is very much based on the pollution emitted by a given vehicle. No wonder at all then that cyclists get away for free!


  1. Don’t cyclists emit CO2 🙂
    I’ve heard less CO2 is released if 5 cyclists drive somewhere in a car then ride their bikes 🙂

    • I’d be surprised if that fact applied under anything other than very controlled conditions, especially since cycle commuting is generally about taking short journeys when you want to go, where a car would hardly have time to warm up or to get moving at maximum efficiency.

  2. Semantics. A “duty” is still a tax. If a vehicle has an out of date tax disc, then it’s untaxed (according to the DVLA). “Road Tax” is just what some people call it – same as saying “Death Duties” for “Inheritance Tax” or “Poll Tax” for “Community Charge”.

    This is a silly season non-story to distract us from the important issues of the day like, um, The Peace of Utrecht.

    • The important point is that it is a tax on the vehicle and it doesn’t mean you are directly paying for the roads. Therefore motorists who complain about cyclists not paying “road tax” and who consider them to have no rights on the highway are misinformed (although that is probably largely the same subset of motorists who aren’t always in the mood for a reasoned discussion!).