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Road tax is changing in April – here's what you need to know

It was only in 2017 that the government launched a new banding system for road tax. The revised rates mean higher costs for petrol and diesel cars in the first year of tax, calculated by measuring your vehicle's CO2 emissions, then a blanket fee of £140 for the following years. But now, tax rates are on the brink of yet another shake up – diesel drivers, take note.

The changes are all part of the government's mission to improve air quality in Britain, and will see buyers of new diesel cars facing higher fees if their car doesn't meet Euro 6 emissions standards.

The lowdown

Tax disc

Auto Express explains that from 1st April 2018, new diesel cars will have to meet what's known as the real driving emissions (RDE) step 2 assessment that makes up part of the EU type approval process. This means that a diesel car is allowed to give out 1.5 times the current 80mg/km NOx limit. If it goes over that, it moves up a tax band.

The Treasury has predicted that fewer than two million cars will be affected. But models like the all-time favourite Ford Fiesta are likely to see increases of £20 in first-year tax rates, while more polluting cars such as the Porsche Cayenne could see first-year rates skyrocket by a staggering £500.

It's worth emphasising that the new rules will only affect diesel cars – not vans – registered on or after 1st April 2018. So, the changes won't be backdated.

What's changed already?

Before, drivers of low-emission petrol and diesel cars didn't have to fork out for tax. But this has changed under the new rules, as only cars with no tailpipe emissions are tax-free – so, hydrogen and electric cars.

As well as this, there's a new five-year, £310 yearly supplement for cars and motorhomes costing over £40,000. Drivers have to pay this extra fee from the second year of tax, and every year for five years.

More changes on the horizon

And the changes don't stop there. From 6th February 2020, there'll be a shift in the way road tax and company car Benefit in Kind (BiK) fees are calculated. The government aims to change the way it assesses CO2 emissions from current NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) criteria to new, tougher WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure). And what does that mean? You guessed it: further road tax hikes for drivers.

These new rules are among a number of changes set to impact drivers this year. New MOT rules are being introduced in May which will see stricter emissions testing for diesel vehicles, plus a new grading system for faults. In both cases, it seems it will be drivers of diesel cars who will be left out of pocket.

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