Explained – car tax bands

From choosing the car that’s right for you, to looking at how to get cheap car insurance, car ownership comes with a lot to think about. Other costs you’ll need to factor in include car tax, which comparison site mustard.co.uk explains right here. 

What is a car tax band?

Car tax is charged on all cars that use public roads. The amount of tax you pay depends on what tax band your car belongs to. 

Officially, car tax is called vehicle excise duty or VED for short. It’s also sometimes known as road tax. 

One of the very few times you don’t have to pay car tax is if you have a SORN (statutory off road notification) for your car. Registering for a SORN means you’re taking your car off the road, so you won’t be able to use it (even for a quick errand). 

If you don’t pay for car tax and haven’t taken out a SORN for your car, you can be fined up to £80. Your details can be sent to a debt collection agency if you refuse to pay the fine. In extreme cases, your car could even be clamped or destroyed. 

What are the different car tax bands?

There are different tax bands depending on when your car was first registered:

Cars registered on or after 1 April 2017 

When the car is first registered, you’ll pay the ‘first-year’ rate which is based on CO2 emissions. Generally speaking, the more CO2 your car emits, the more you can expect to pay. The year after that, you’ll pay the ‘standard rate’ which is a fixed amount regardless of CO2 emissions. 

Currently, alternative fuel cars (hybrids, bioethanol and LPG cars) pay £10 less for each first-year rate tax band and for the standard rate. 

It’s also worth considering that if you buy a car with a list price of more than £40,000, you’ll also need to pay an ‘expensive car supplement’. It’s currently £355 and has to be paid for five years, starting the year after it was first registered. For example, if your car was registered in 2018, you’d pay the standard rate in 2019 alongside the expensive car supplement. 

Tax bands for cars registered since April 2017 are: 

CO2 emissions First-year rate Standard rate
0g/km £0 £0
1-50g/km £10 £165
51-75g/km £25 £165
76-90g/km £120 £165
91-100g/km £150 £165
101-110g/km £170 £165
111-130g/km £190 £165
131-150g/km £230 £165
151-170g/km £585 £165
171-190g/km £945 £165
191-225g/km £1,420 £165
226-255g/km £2,015 £165
Over 255g/km £2,365 £165

Cars registered between 1 March 2001 and 31 March 2017

These tax bands are also based on CO2 emissions but they’re not quite the same as the bands for newer cars. Alternative fuel cars still also pay £10 less per band. 

Band and CO2 emissions Car tax cost for 12-months
A: up to 100g/km £0
B: 101-110g/km £20
C: 111-120g/km £30
D: 121-130g/km £135
E: 131-140g/km £165
F: 141-150g/km £180
G: 151-165g/km £220
H: 166-175g/km £265
I: 176-185g/km £290
J: 186-200g/km  £330
K: 201-225g/km £360
L: 226-255g/km £615
M: Over 255g/km £630

Cars registered before 1 March 2001

Tax bands are much simpler for older cars and there are just two based on the car’s engine size: 

  • Under 1549cc, annual road tax costs £180
  • Over 1549cc, annual road tax costs £295

What car tax band do electric cars belong to?

At the moment, electric cars are exempt from car tax, but this is going to change in April 2025 when the government brings in new rules.

Under the revised rules, electric car owners will need to pay both the first-year and standard rate just like other car owners. The first-year rate for EVs will be the same as it is for the lowest CO2 emission cars (1-50g/km) which is currently £10. Alternative fuel cars will also be charged £10 for the first year. 

How do I buy car tax?

The easiest way to buy car tax is online at GOV.UK. You’ll also need to make sure your car is insured and that it has a valid MOT (if needed). 

You can also pay for the full 12-months of car tax in one go or split them into 12 monthly instalments payable by Direct Debit. Bear in mind that if you pay in instalments, you’ll pay slightly more overall. 

If you haven’t arranged car insurance yet, why not head over to mustard.co.uk, where you’ll be able to compare a range of quotes from leading UK insurers. You can start a quote online or speak to a member of their team on 0330 022 8825.

Interesting Related Article: “What is a carbon tax? Definition and meaning