In 1925 none other than Winston Churchill (then chancellor) called Road Tax “absurd” and “an outrage on common sense”. By 1937 it had been abolished. The roads have been paid for from general taxation for the last 76 years.
Which begs the question: Why do so many people think it still exists?
It was highlighted again this week when Emma Way, 22, was convicted of failing to stop after a crash and failing to report an accident after she tweeted "Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier. I have right of way. He doesn't even pay road tax!"
She’s not alone in thinking that car drivers pay for the roads.
In a recent interview with the Guardian, MP Kate Hoey said: “I would love to see cycling separated [in cycle paths], because I think it would help everybody.... But if we're going to do that don't you think they should have to pay something, as a road tax? Why should I pay a hundred and whatever pounds for my little Mini and they don't?”
And Jeremy Clarkson posted this on Facebook in 2011: “Trespassers in the motorcars’ domain, [cyclists] do not pay road tax and therefore have no right to be on the road.”
Examples of influential bodies still using the phrase are everywhere – car guide Parkers has a list of “Road Tax Rates” while the DVLA even released an advert calling on people to “Get Your Road Tax”.
If a Member of Parliament and the country’s most prominent motoring journalist (not to mention the DVLA) can’t understand how the roads are paid for and that there’s no such thing as a “road tax” then there’s something odd going on.
It’s actually pretty simple. Upkeep of the roads is paid for from general and local taxes.
Money from your tax disk (and remember, not all cars have to pay this either, as it is based on CO2 emissions not the car itself) goes into the general taxation pot and is not in any way earmarked for the roads. Anyone paying council tax or even just buying a pint is helping to pay for the roads as well.
But more than just another example of people not understanding either how things are funded or where their tax money goes, there’s potentially a sinister side to this particular misunderstanding.
"It's dangerous if motorists think that because they pay car tax they have an entitlement to the road," Carlton Reid, who runs the pro-cycling website I Pay Road Tax, told the BBC.
"A small minority of drivers seem to think it gives them the right to drive badly. Language is very powerful."
The last two weeks have seen half a dozen cyclists killed in London alone convincing people that everyone pays for the roads, not just drivers, won’t stop this – but it might help ease tensions between the soaring number of cyclists and drivers.
And if we can do that by simply changing the words we use for a tax, we really, really should.