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British hobbyists concerned over proposed new taxes and fees

In the U.K. classic cars will see a significant rise in taxation and fees due to uncertainty of Brexit deal.

As if COVID-19 hasn’t impacted classic-car enthusiasts around the world, on the last day of 2020, British car collectors face the threat of new taxes going into effect. The new Value Added Tax (VAT), as well as new importation fees, could make classic car purchase costs rise as much as 33 percent.

“At the moment, there is a lot of ‘will it or won’t it (talk),’” vintage Pontiac collector Graham Webber, of England, told Old Cars. “It is all down to if a Brexit deal can be found with the European Union (EU). Until we have a deal or no deal on Brexit, we will not know. It has more to do with newer cars over 30 years old. Nothing can be confirmed at the moment so it’s a bit of tit-for-tat tactics. I’m sure Europeans will want us to buy their cars.”

Brexit means British exit from the EU. David F. Darby, of the MG Magnette Internet Group ( said, “I’d heard about this earlier and, if it does happen, it appears to be a direct result of Brexit. It's not just the importation of classic cars, but Britons have set themselves up for economic fallout as the EU makes adjustments to the standardized economic system that was developed in the internal market. The Brits will no longer enjoy free movement of goods and services through the market if they go it alone. I really don't have a full understanding of it. Brexit appears to be one of the most dramatic self-inflicted socio-economic wounds to a country in recent times.”

A Dec. 3, 2020 Steven Symes article in the Motorious newsletter ( reported, “Buying a classic car in the U.K. is about to become much, much more expensive thanks to the government. Not only are they going to incur a big 20 percent VAT charge, there will be an additional 10 percent import duty if they’re coming from mainland Europe.”

Motorious said Colin Laidlaw, a Director of VAT, felt that people were overreacting to the news by trying to deal before the close of the year. He opined that the additional fees would just be making classic cars in the UK as expensive as elsewhere in the world.

“With regard to owning classic cars in the UK currently, one can claim vehicle tax exemption on vehicles forty years and older,” David F. Darby explained. “Also, there's a new proposed mileage road tax that will probably exempt classic cars and motorbikes. I doubt that any of these measures would apply to conditions in North America.”

Darby feels collector cars consume such a small quantity of resources and emit such a small percentage of carbon, versus everyday cars, that they’d be grandfathered out of new taxes and emissions as everyday cars get lower emissions and electric power.

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