CO 2 -based Motor Vehicle Tax

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1 CO 2 -based Motor Vehicle Tax 30 September 2011 Frieder Rubik and Lauren Mityorn (Institute for Ecological Economy Research) Key words: Mobility & good practice, mobility & policy instruments, vehicle tax Transport is responsible for 29% of total CO 2 emissions in the EU 27. Most of them derive from road transport. Economic instruments could help reduce CO 2 emissions caused by passenger cars. France, the UK and Finland have implemented taxation schemes directed at reducing emissions from cars. The reduction of CO 2 emissions caused by the transport sector is a key objective to enable the targets set up in the Kyoto Protocol to be achieved. Economic instruments like environmental-related taxes or incentives not only generate revenues, but may induce behavioural change in producers and consumers. Economic instruments related to CO 2 in passenger transport exist in various forms including charges for the use of infrastructure (e.g. vignettes or tolls), vehicle taxation including registration or purchase tax, annual circulation tax and scrapping incentives, and taxes on petrol. We will concentrate on passenger vehicle taxation. In 2002, the European Commission stated that the majority of the EU-15 countries levied registration taxes on an engine capacity basis. Nowadays, 18 EU countries apply CO 2 -related differentiated tax schemes: 4 countries 1 levy annual circulation CO 2 - or fuel based efficiency taxes and 6 countries 2 apply one-off payment or subsidy modes. Further, 8 European countries 3 have introduced a CO 2 - related tax form which combines registration taxation and circulation taxation. First Registration / Purchase Tax - The French Bonus-Malus System The registration or purchase tax is a one-off tax levied on vehicles, and is related to CO 2 emission or fuel efficiency. In late 2007, the French government introduced the combined bonus and malus programme applying to new vehicle purchases. It applies to the CO 2 -rate of emission, according to a differentiated energy class system currently consisting of seven classes. The Bonus-Malus System has been modified twice since its introduction by tightening the limits of each bonus and malus class. Differentiated bonuses, starting at EUR 5,000, are paid to the purchasers of vehicles that emit less than 61g CO 2 /km. Differentiated penalty fees (malus) of minimum EUR 200 are levied on purchased vehicles with emissions above 150g CO 2 /km, increasing in line with higher CO 2 emission. Purchased vehicles with emission rates between 111g CO 2 /km and 150g CO 2 /km are neither subsidised nor charged (see Fig. 1) Germany, Greece, Sweden and United Kingdom. Austria, Belgium, France, Romania, Slovenia and Spain. Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and The Netherlands. Page 1

2 BY FRIEDER RUBIK AND LAUREN MITYORN, IÖW Fig. 1: Bonus Malus on Car Sales per Emissions class (a negative value is a bonus) 3,000 Bonus malus scheme per vehicle type (in ) 2,000 1, ,000-2,000-3,000-4,000-5,000-6,000 < >240 Emissions in CO2/km Source: ADEME. Véhicules particuliers vendus en France. Edition 2011, p. 18 The market share of vehicles receiving a bonus increased from 30% in 2007 to 50% in The market share of vehicles subject to a malus fell from 24% to 9% during the same period (see Fig. 2). Fig. 2: Structure of car sales according to the bonus-malus scheme (in % per year) 60% 56% 50% 40% 45% 50% 46% 42% 36% 41% % 30% 24% 20% 14% 10% 8% 9% 0% Bonus classes Classes without bonus and malus Malus classes Source :ADEME. Véhicules particuliers vendus en France. Edition 2011, p. 17 Page 2

3 CO 2 -BASED MOTOR VEHICLE TAX The average CO 2 emission rate of new registered passenger cars in France fell from 149.4g CO 2 /km in 2007 to 130.5g CO 2 /km in 2010, whereas the EU 27 average emission rate is 140.3g CO 2 /km. Annual Circulation Taxation - The UK s vehicle excise duty (VED) In 2001, the UK introduced a graduated rate of vehicle excise duty (VED). By linking the vehicle s carbon dioxide emissions to taxation rates, the British government encourages the use of environmentally more benign cars. The VED is split into 13 bands (from A-M). Prospective vehicle purchasers or owners can access a national website which provides information on tax rates according to CO 2 - emissions, the year of registration and fuel mode. Since 1 April 2010, new vehicles registered on or after this date are charged with a higher first tax disc (known as first-year-rates ), whereby tax rates recently applied to emissions above 130g CO 2 /km charging a fee of EUR The tax rates rise exponentially with higher emission rates. Vehicles powered by alternative fuels are charged EUR less than the diesel/petrol powered version. After the first year, annual rates have to be paid; they range from EUR for low emitting vehicles ( g CO 2 /km) to EUR for emissions above 255g CO 2 /km, applying to vehicles registered between March 2001 and April A rate of EUR is levied on vehicles emitting 120g CO 2 / km. Vehicles powered by alternative fuels (i.e. hybrids, bioethanol) are charged EUR less per annum. After the introduction of the vehicle excise duty, the average CO 2 -emission of taxed new passenger cars has decreased from 173 g CO 2 /km (2003) to g CO 2 /km (2010). This is still above the EU 27 average of g CO 2 /km. A hybrid approach: the example of CO2-related vehicle tax in Finland In 2008, the Finnish government introduced a CO 2 based registration tax for passenger cars (less than 4.500kg), as well as a differentiated vehicle tax on a circulation basis, in The registration tax is a one-off tax, calculated as a percentage of the general retail price taking the emission rate into account. The tax rate lies between 10% (applying to vehicles with emission rates of <61g CO 2 /km) and 40% (applying to vehicles with emission rates of >361g CO 2 /km) of the retail price. The tax rises by one percent per additional emission of 10g CO 2 /km. Hence, a vehicle emitting 120g CO 2 /km is charged 16% of the retail price. The circulation tax is an annual tax calculated on a daily basis and ranges from 5.3 cents/day for vehicles emitting <67g CO 2 /km to 166 cents/day for emitters of >399g CO 2 /km. A vehicle emitting 120g CO 2 /km is levied with a tax rate of 16.2 cents/day (EUR on an annual basis). Since the introduction of the CO 2 -related registration tax in 2008, the market share of vehicles emitting more than 200g CO 2 /km vehicles has dropped significantly, whereas the sales of vehicles with less than 141g CO 2 /km vehicles doubled from 23.5% (2008) to 47% in the first eight months of 2011 (see Fig. 3). 4 Currency exchange rate (3 August.2011): GBP 1 equates EUR Page 3

4 BY FRIEDER RUBIK AND LAUREN MITYORN, IÖW Fig. 3: Development of market shares of passenger vehicles (in %) % CO 2 g/km Source: Finish Ministry of Finance After the introduction of the registration tax, the average CO 2 -emission of taxed new passenger cars has decreased from 177 g CO 2 /km (2007) to 145 g CO 2 /km (2011), which is a decrease if over 17 %. But, this is still above the EU 27 average of g CO 2 /km. The impact results of the CO 2 -based annual tax, which began in March 2010, are not yet available. However, due to its modest tax level, it is not expected that its impact will be significant. References EU European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT), Cutting transport CO 2 emission: What progress? Paris. Available at: (accessed 22 September 2011). European Environmental Agency [EEA], Market-based instruments for environmental policy in Europe. Technical Report No. 8/2005, Copenhagen. Available at: (accessed 22 September 2011). Page 4

5 CO 2 -BASED MOTOR VEHICLE TAX European Environmental Agency [EEA], Using the market for cost-effective environmental policy. Technical Report No. 1/2006, Copenhagen. Available at: (accessed 22 September 2011). OECD, Incentives for CO 2 emission reduction in current motor vehicle taxes. Working Party on National Environmental Policies Working Group on Transport, Paris. Available at: (accessed 22 September 2011). OECD, The scope for CO 2 -based differentiation in motor vehicle taxes in equilibrium and in context of the current global recession. Working Party on National Environmental Policies Working Group on Transport, Paris. Available at: pnep/t(2009)1/final (accessed 22 September 2011). Databases of Policy Instruments International Energy Agency [IEA]. OECD Database on environmental taxes of member countries. Finland Tulli Tull Customs, CO 2 based car tax. Customer bulletin No. 25, Helsinki. Available at: pdf (accessed 22 September 2011). France Agence de l Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l Energie (ADEME), Véhicules particuliers vendus en France. Evolution de marché, caractéristiques environnementales et techniques. Edition 2011, Valbonne. Available at: atlocal pdf (accessed 22 September 2011). Callonec, G., Sannié, I., Evaluation of the economic and ecological effects of the French bonus malus. ECEEE Summer Study, Paris. Available at: (accessed 22 September 2011). United Kingdom Butcher, L., Parliament Briefing Paper on Vehicle Excise Duty. Library of House of Common. Business and Transport Sector. Available at: (accessed 22 September 2011). Page 5

6 BY FRIEDER RUBIK AND LAUREN MITYORN, IÖW Directgov Website for public service advise. Available at: HowToTaxYourVehicle/DG_ (accessed 22 September 2011). Page 6

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