Mary Braim, Inland Revenue policy adviser on transport benefits, called for fleet managers to use the information they now have to ensure they and their drivers are ready for the arrival of the new tax regime. Braim also flagged up more stringent emissions-based tax bands for company cars in the not-too-distant future.
Braim said: 'Fleet managers can look with confidence at what the future shape of any tax regime will be and make the changes necessary to their fleet operations. We have published all the details of the new tax system as early as possible to let fleets prepare. That is why the industry has been given the shape of company car tax until 2004/5 and early notice of the changes expected to affect authorised mileage rates.'
But Braim added the changes would not end there: 'In a few years' time, the starting emissions level for the tax will be ratcheted down further. Even if reaching 145g/km becomes a run of the mill requirement for manufacturers, we will have to ratchet levels down further.'
And she pictured the effect of the tax changes being a much larger number of smaller-engined cars on British roads:'There will be an increase in small cars, particularly with the changes to the Inland Revenue Authorised Mileage Rates.'
The rates will be fundamentally changed in the next couple of years to bring the four-band system into a single band in future. Braim said: 'Obviously people selling PCP schemes will not think this is a wonderful decision, but how else can we ensure there is some gain for the environment.