Sourced from Telegraph on line Finance Section:
UK drivers face the highest petrol prices of any major economy, with tax making up almost 60pc of both diesel and petrol prices.
An 80-litre tank of diesel costs £108.74 in the UK, the highest price worldwide, while a tank of petrol costs the third highest, at £106.38, according to UHY Hacker Young accountancy group.
Roy Maugham, head of tax at UHY Hacker Young, said that businesses struggle to bear the costs of high fuel taxes. "Taxes on fuel are an area in which the UK is placing a bigger burden on businesses than in many other countries, which could act as a brake on the speed of recovery from the recession. "The United States is already quite a distance ahead of the UK in its economic recovery, and its lower levels of taxation in areas like fuel may well be helping to stimulate growth.
"Reduced taxes on diesel would be particularly advantageous for fast-growing small and medium businesses that run fleets of commercial vehicles, especially in sectors like distribution and retail. These businesses can be key drivers of economic recovery”, he said. Some 59pc of UK diesel prices is taxation, with £63.79 of the cost of an 80-litre tank going towards fuel duty and VAT.
In China, diesel faces no taxation and a tank costs £59.21, while 80 litres of diesel in the US costs just £49.42, of which just 12pc is tax. UK petrol prices are behind only Denmark and the Netherlands, and 60pc of the final cost, or £63.39 per 80 litre tank, is made up of tax.
Philip Davies, conservative MP for Shipley, said the level of fuel duty was unjustifiable and called on Chancellor George Osborne to reduce rates. "Fuel duty in the UK remains unjustifiably high and I would very much like to see it cut in order to help had pressed families as well as businesses. "George Osborne has done more than any other Chancellor in modern times to keep down the rates of fuel duty which I welcome, but there is more that needs to be done. "As a very minimum I believe he should rule out any increases in fuel duty for the entirety of the next Parliament, meaning a freeze until 2020”, he said.
Higher petrol taxes are partly used to cut greenhouse gas emissions but UHY Hacker Young shows that Liquefied Petroleum Gas, a more environmentally-friendly alternative to petrol, still has a UK tax levy of 60pc.
UK has a higher tax on LPG than any other major economy worldwide, and the third highest LPG costs in the world.
James Challinor, senior analyst at Wood Mackenzie energy consultancy group, said that although fuel duty leads to higher inflation, he expects taxes to increase after the next general election. "After the election, whoever gets in is going to have to look at this again and increase excise duty on fuel”, he said. But the pre-tax costs of fuel will remain "relatively flat”, unless a refinery opens nearby in Europe, said Mr Challinor. At present, there are few diesel refineries in the UK and so Britain is a net importer of fuel, which adds to the costs.
Campaign group FairFuelUK said UHY Hacker Young’s findings were "a scandal of massive proportion” and called for a tax cut. "This is why so many complain they’re spending so much of their incomes on mobility. A fuel duty cut of 3 pence would hugely benefit everybody in the UK, but especially the poorest”, said motoring expert and FairFuel UK leader Quentin Wilson.
Co-founder Howard Cox said a 3p duty cut would be self-financing, and would mean the UK no longer takes more in diesel tax than any other EU Finance Minister. "Other EU states subsidise diesel prices via lower fuel duty. Why can’t the UK Government do the same?”, he said.
An HM Treasury spokeswoman said freezing fuel duty has been "a major priority". "Petrol will be nearly 20p a litre cheaper by the end of the parliament than it otherwise would have been. This represents a total saving of £680 for the typical motorist over the course of the Parliament", she said.