BRITISH drivers who whinge about paying the highest tax in Europe are mistaken, according to a new report. The independent review of European motoring, published by the Commission for Integrated Transport, says the so-called 'tax burden' faced by UK motorists is the same as 14 other European countries.
The report, which compares levels of taxes and charges paid by motorists in 14 states, is based on the annual taxation of car ownership, car use, petrol, car purchase, tolls, excise duty and VAT.
According to the report, UK drivers are better off with larger cars. Cars with 2,000cc engines come ninth highest on the list of taxation for ownership and use. But drivers with 1,000cc and 1,600cc vehicles finish fifth.
David Begg, chairman of the commission, said the report would end 'extravagant' suggestions that the cost of motoring taxes in the UK was higher than anywhere else in Europe. He added that the research would allow debate about motoring costs to take place on solid evidence. 'I welcome the focus of tax on car use with lower tax on ownership. This is consistent with the Government's strategy to discourage appropriate car use but not car ownership and should lead to lower congestion,' said Begg.
But he warned that motoring costs should not be looked at in isolation. 'Drivers need to compare rising public transport fares with fares in the rest of Europe where there is evidence to suggest passengers pay significantly less than in the UK.'
The focus of the UK tax system is on car use rather than car ownership with drivers paying higher car use charges than ownership charges. For drivers of 1,000cc cars, the UK has the third highest taxes - lower than France or Italy. But drivers with 1,600cc vehicles or above are in the highest tax group coming in second below Italy and above France.