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With the 2014 demise of the tax disc and further changes around the corner in 2017, we take a look at the current road tax climate

It’s funny how quickly we’ve got used to not having to display a tax disc in our windscreens. The tax disc had been around for almost 100 years when it was scrapped, but all road tax records are now stored centrally and digitally, so the need to carefully tear around those paper perforations is a ritual consigned to the history books.

While many decried the demise of the tax disc, the reality was that it was becoming somewhat outdated. Most convictions for road-tax evasion have been brought about by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras for some time, and administrating the old paper-based system was an inefficient use of resources.

How do the new road tax rules affect me?

With the disappearance of the tax disc came an end to the ability to transfer any remaining tax to a vehicle’s new owner. Now, when you sell or trade in your old car, you have to apply for a refund for any leftover tax (which can take up to six weeks to come through) and immediately stump up to tax your new car. With the ever-growing ubiquity of the Internet, this is a pretty seamless online process – but it’s still possible to tax your car at the Post Office.

You can also now pay for your road tax by a monthly Direct Debit, while the annual and six-monthly payment options continue. The DVLA automatically sends out renewal reminders (called V11 forms), so remembering to tax your car is easy, despite the disappearance of tax discs. V11 forms also have a Direct Debit form to fill in on the back, which you can then take to a Post Office if you’d rather not pay online.

Car tax bands until April 2017

At the moment, the amount of road tax you pay is determined by your car’s carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions, measured in grams per kilometre (g/km). There are two levels of payment: one applies to the first year of a new car’s registration and only has to be paid by the car’s first owner. The second rate is an annual payment that has to be paid each year your car is on the road.

Any car that emits under 100g/km is exempt from both of these payments, while cars that emit 130g/km of CO2 and under are excused from the first-year payment and only incur the annual fee.

The rate for some car tax bands went up slightly in April 2016, so to find out exactly what you’ll be liable to pay when your tax comes up for renewal, read our guide to car tax bands.

What’s coming in April 2017?

From spring next year, the whole road-tax system is changing completely. While CO2 emissions will still play a part, only zero-emission cars will be exempt from the annual charge. This effectively means that if you buy a new petrol or diesel-engined car after April 2017, you’ll be liable to pay road tax.

While the first-year rate will vary based on a car’s CO2 emissions, the annual fee will be a flat rate of £140 for all cars, with an extra £310 annual surcharge applying to all cars costing over £40,000 new.

These rates will only apply to cars registered from April 2017 onwards – cars already on the road will continue to be taxed under the old system.

Want to know more? Read our detailed guide to the current road tax bands, as well as the changes coming in 2017.

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