So. Budget Time.
In previous years, the whole nation would hold its breath in anticipation; but this year the flurry that generally occurs prior to the announcement was somewhat lacking. Some would say that it was replaced with an air of nonchalance (judging from the comments on Twitter and feedback from fellow motor traders and customers, anyway).
Would Chancellor George Osborne really introduce measures to help the recovery? There were, in fact, a number of changes announced that will directly affect not only our industry, but also drivers in general.
Unless you have been hiding under a stone somewhere, you will have noticed the reports that fuel duty is frozen. The £1.89 pence per litre increase that was planned for September 1st has now been scrapped. This represents the longest period of time (three and a half years, in fact) in twenty years that fuel duty has been frozen. That got a few good headlines, anyway.
Next, Vehicle Excise Duty - or Road Tax to me and you. It's going up. From as soon as this April, Road Tax is rising in line with inflation (RPI). However, the Government have decided to exclude this increase for heavy goods vehicles - VED for HGVs will remain the same for this year to next. There are now no plans to completely change the Road Tax System at present (unsurprisingly, really, being as this raises nearly 6 billion pounds every year).
The DVLA has pledged to make SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) last indefinitely, meaning that there is no need to keep renewing annually. This, apparently, is so that they can cut down on administration. And to make you feel better about paying more VED, they will also let you off if you have paid for - but not displayed - your tax disc for up to 14 days.
Now then, company car drivers. If you are lucky enough to have a job that comes with a car, you will be all too familiar with this one. There will soon be two new company car tax bands, 0-50g / km CO2 and 51-75g / km CO2. The percentage of the lowest one will be 5% in 2015/2016, rising to 7% in 2016/2017. For the 51-75 g / km CO2 band, this will be 9% in 2015/2016, rising to 11% the following year.
After this time (2017/2018), there will be a 3 percent difference between the 0-50 and the 51-75 g / km CO2 bands and the 51-75 and 76-94g / km CO2 bracket. Then, in 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 there will be a 2 percent point difference between the 0-50 and the 51-75g / km CO2 bands and the 51-75 and 76-94g / km CO2 bands.
The Benefit in Kind Tax on electric cars (EVs) will now be less than was previously announced at 13% - it will now be much lower at just 5%. This will come into play in April 2015.
Going forward, the government have pledged to allow three years notice regarding company car taxes. They will also be looking at ways to incentivise the use of very low emission cars during the 2016 budget.
Looking at Fuel Benefits, from April 6th this year until 2013, the FBC will go up to £21100 (this was previously £20200). This will rise in accordance with the Retail Prices Index (otherwise known as RPI or rate of inflation) in the following year. Van Fuel Benefit Charge will remain at £550, again increasing with inflation in 2014 - 2015.
Van (LCV / Light Commercial Vehicle) benefit charge will also remain at £3,000 in for this year and next.
The 100% full year Capital Allowance has been extended until the end of March 2015. Thereafter, the allowance threshold will go down to 75g / km from 95g / km. The Government intend to review whether or not this will be extended at the 2016 Budget, whereupon they also plan to look at the main bracket (130g / km at 18%).
For us traders, the 100% relief extension should mean extra demand for vehicles in this sector - the extension is indeed long enough for any business to reap some benefit from putting low carbon emission cars on their fleet.
On another car related note, if you are lucky enough to own a classic car that was built prior to 1974, you won't have to pay road tax (this was previously 1973). A gesure perhaps here, but one that will be appreciated by the few who own them built between 1973 and 1974 we are sure.
There are a few unrelated changes that will affect business generally however and therefore should result in a little more cars being sold.
Firstly, Corporation Tax has been reduced to 23% from April this year and it will be cut again by a further 3% by April 2015, bringing it to 20%. The United Kingdom will have the lowest rates in the G-20. Less tax should equal more profit.
Of course, for the low paid working sector, there is great news as the threshold for income tax is rising to £9440 from April, and again will be rising to £10000 next year. More money in pockets should equal more to spend.
So was it good news or bad? Should we be grateful for small mercies; there has been a lot of freezing going on, with a few gestures here and there, headline grabbers and a couple of things thrown into the mix that could make a little bit of a difference to the motorist and the motor trade community.
Or was it all, well, just putting it off. Or of course, glossing it over.