posted 29 Dec 2011, 15:03 by Eli Kling

GWC do not usually make reference to car-orientated websites but an item in a CTC news letter mentioned Carbuzz ( a relatively cycle-friendly website that encourage drivers to be more cycle aware. Carbuzz recently included a piece on the myth of so-called "Road Tax", beloved by cycle bashers everywhere.

Carbuzz points out that road tax no longer exists, it was abolished in 1937. What we have today is a tax on vehicles, not a tax that pays for roads. The official name for it is Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). Road tax is a term often used by car magazines, car manufacturers, newspapers and government websites. It is misleading at best, a mistaken belief in entitlement at worst.

Winston Churchill started the process to abolish road tax in 1926. He said: "Entertainments may be taxed; public houses may be taxed; racehorses may be taxed…and the yield devoted to the general revenue. But motorists are to be privileged for all time to have the whole yield of the tax on motors devoted to roads. Obviously this is all nonsense…Such contentions are absurd, and constitute…an outrage upon the sovereignty of Parliament and upon common sense."

Prior to 1937, vehicles paid into the "Road fund" and this pot of cash helped pay some of the costs of roads. Today, VED goes into the general taxation pot and building and maintaining our road network is paid for by national and local taxes. The amount of VED is variable based on the amount of CO2 a vehicle emits. Bicycles are classed as vehicles, so if VED was to be charged, then with current legislation they would be in the same tax band as electric cars and be duty free.

This might be worth remembering if faced with a need to defend our position on the road.