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Road tax reform – have your say before they say it for you

Published: 02 December 2001

ROAD tax for smaller bikes could be cut, but tax on larger superbikes could be increased to make up the shortfall, according to government proposals revealed earlier this week.

It’s part of a planned complete reform of the motorcycle tax system, with a view to encouraging smaller commuter machines. But the bottom line, as with any such operation, is that the same amount of money must still be made. According to the document, the Government sees any motorcycle over 600cc as leisure vehicles and will tax these luxury machines accordingly. They even propose a super-tax for machines over 1000cc.

But at the moment these are only proposals and there is the opportunity to make your voice heard.

The proposals include reforming the costs for each engine size, altering the capacity at which a motorcycle is described as low, medium or high, as well as combating tax evasion and encouraging the use of smaller bikes as commuters.

Currently, motorcycles are taxed in three different bands: under 150cc machines cost £15 a year, Between 150cc and 250cc costs £40 and over 250cc machines cost £65.

Under the new proposals, motorcycle sizes would be brought more up to date. A small machine would be up to 400cc, a medium size would be 400-600cc, and a large machine defined as over 600cc.

According to the proposal, there could even be a new ‘super’ band for machines over 1000cc.

The document states: " The Government believes that motorcycles not over 400cc are predominantly used for commuting, over 400cc and up to 600cc are used both for commuting and leisure purposes: and 600cc and over are used predominantly for leisure purposes. The Government is also considering the case for a further higher rate for the largest motorcycles (over 1000cc) because of the relatively larger environmental impacts they have. "

As yet, the costs for the new bands are unknown. A treasury spokesperson explained: " Smaller motorcycles are to be encouraged as they provide a more congestion-free and environmentally-friendly option than car use. A price for each of the new bands, or even whether the new bands are correct, hasn’t been decided yet. This is a consultation paper, and we need to be consulted. People need to give us their opinions first. "

But not every body is so happy with the paper. " It’s as much a threat as it is an opportunity, " said MCI PR Director Craig Carey-Clinch. " Nowhere does the paper mention tax reductions on superbikes; it’s setting us up for a hike. The Government have made themselves a hostage to fortune by quoting environmental issues as the reason behind this. If that was really the case, most bikes would pay little or no road tax. What the MCI would like to achieve is the exemption of mopeds from road tax, and at the very least, the freezing of superbike road tax. "

The other issue that the Government wants to address is that of tax evasion, and tax-disc theft from motorcycles. By preventing the relatively easy theft and transfer of one tax disc between many bikes, they hope to reduce the level of tax evasion. The DVLA is proposing a rectangular license that sticks to the numberplate. The unit would be tamper-proof and any attempt at removal would result in its destruction.

You can see detials of all the proposals and how to have your say at: www.dvla.gov.uk/public/consult/motorcycle_ved/motorcycle_ved.htm or get a copy by calling the DVLA on 0870-241-2145.

But don’t leave it too long, as the deadline for responses is February 8, 2002.

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