This Forecast in-depth page has been updated with information available at the time of the March 2023 Economic and fiscal outlook.

Vehicle excise duty (VED) is a tax levied on every vehicle using public roads in the UK and is collected by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). For most cars registered prior to April 2017, the amount of VED due depended primarily on the car’s official CO2 emissions. For cars registered from April 2017 onwards, first-year VED payments are related to CO2 emissions, but subsequent payments are not.

Drivers of relatively fuel-efficient petrol or diesel cars (up to 50g/km CO2) typically pay up to £25 for the year when they first register the vehicle, depending on the car’s official CO2 emissions. Drivers of less fuel-efficient cars pay more, up to a maximum of £2,365. More information can be found on the website.

For the second-year payment onwards, most drivers pay a fixed rate of £165 regardless of the CO2 emissions of their vehicle. Some drivers may also have to pay a luxury supplement if they drive a car with a ‘list price’ of more than £40,000. VED information on new or used cars can be found using the Vehicle Certification Agency’s online tool.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are currently exempt and drivers of EVs pay no VED, but from 2025, EVs first registered on or after 1 April 2017 will be liable to pay the lower rate in the first year (that which currently applies to vehicles with CO2 emissions of 1-50g/km) and the standard rate from the second year of registration onwards. A similar change applies to zero-emissions vans and motorcycles. The luxury supplement exemption for EVs is also due to end in 2025.

We forecast that VED will raise £8.0 billion in 2023-24. That represents 0.7 per cent of all receipts and is equivalent to around £284 per household and 0.3 per cent of national income.

  Forecast methodology

Forecast process

The OBR commissions forecasts of VED receipts from HM Revenue and Customs for each fiscal event. The forecasts start by generating an in-year estimate for receipts in the current year, then use a model to forecast growth in receipts from that starting point. We provide HMRC with economic forecasts that are used to generate the tax forecasts. These are scrutinised in a challenge process that typically involves two rounds of meetings where HMRC analysts present forecasts to the Budget Responsibility Committee and OBR staff. This process allows the BRC to refine the assumptions and judgements that underpin the forecasts before they are published in our Economic and fiscal outlooks (EFOs).

Forecasting models

The forecasting model is based on DVLA data covering the entire vehicle stock, enabling vehicle types to be disaggregated into the many different VED bands.

Receipts are calculated by multiplying the stock of vehicles by the appropriate duty rate. Rates are indexed each year in line with RPI inflation (subject to any pre-announced policies) and rounded to either the nearest £1 or £5, depending on the tax band. Future vehicle stock levels are forecast by applying assumed vehicle scrappage rates to the existing vehicle stock and by adding expected new car sales.

The stock of vehicles paying VED is currently around 35 million, so new car sales make up a relatively small part of the stock each year. New cars also emit less CO2 than the average of all cars, so attract lower first-year VED rates under the current system. The effect of new car sales on future VED rates was more pronounced under the previous system, where lower CO2 emissions attracted permanently lower VED rates.

Main forecast determinants

The main determinants of our VED forecast are those related to the tax base and those that are used by the Government in setting parameters of the tax system.


Main forecast judgements

The most important judgements in our VED forecast are related to the composition of the vehicle stock. Since most cars currently on UK roads were registered prior to April 2017, their VED payments are linked to official CO2 emissions – so less fuel-efficient cars are liable to higher VED rates. Alongside those, we need to make several other forecast judgements. These include:

  • In-year estimate – year-to-date receipts provide valuable information about the likely outturn for the current year. Judgements are made on whether to push any unexplained shortfall or excess through to our forecasts for future years.
  • Efficiency gains in petrol or diesel vehicles and the shift to hybrids and fully electric vehicles (EVs) – over time a higher proportion of vehicles fall into lower VED bands, putting downward pressure on the VED forecast (although less so under the regime from April 2017 in which only first-year VED rates are affected and less so still under the regime from 2025 onwards that requires EVs to pay VED). The shift to fully electric vehicles now appears to be progressing more quickly than we had anticipated, as set out in in Box 3.3 of our March 2022 EFO.
  • We might adjust the forecast of new car sales if we judge that they are likely to be higher or lower than the raw output from the econometric model. For example, an adjustment could be made to reflect the positive impact of any car scrappage schemes. Offsetting adjustments would then be made to later years to account for these sales being brought forward.
  • Similarly, we might adjust the forecast of scrappage rates if we judge that older vehicles are being scrapped faster or slower than is currently assumed in our model.

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  Previous forecasts

From 2010 to 2013, our forecasts were generally revised down, predominantly due to the regime at the time being heavily dependent on CO2 emissions and therefore sensitive to the rising fuel efficiency of new cars. The upward-sloping receipts forecasts since Summer Budget 2015 reflect the new VED banding policy, which reduced the sensitivity of receipts to rising fuel efficiency.

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