What is Toll-Tax?

byYashi DasLast Updated: May 3, 2024
What is Toll-Tax

Toll Tax or Toll is the charge that vehicle drivers have to pay while crossing certain interstate expressways, tunnels, bridges, and other national and state highways. These roads are termed toll roads and are under the control of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

Two toll booths are located, usually at a distance of 60 kilometres, where one stretch of a toll road ends and the other begins. A toll road stretch is common of sixty kilometres or less and the toll tax is calculated accordingly. If the stretch is less than 60 km, then the toll tax value depends on the exact distance.

Features of Toll Tax

Toll tax is one of the many taxes levied by the government. They charge the money from the drivers passing by these roads as maintenance fees. Below are the salient features of toll tax in India:

  • Toll tax is a type of indirect tax (levied on services). Hence, it is not charged to the individuals (their income, capital gains, revenue, etc.)
  • Toll tax is used for road construction and maintenance purposes. Therefore, it covers the costs of newly built toll roads by charging the toll tax. It also charges for maintaining the toll road
  • Toll tax is not the usual road tax that the RTO charges from vehicle owners. It is, instead, the one that NHAI charges for the roads across the state/national highways. It must be noted that the NHAI levies the toll tax fee only on four-wheelers or larger vehicle passers-by on these toll roads
  • The toll tax generates the revenue which the NHAI distributes to several private parties/contractors. So, the latter is responsible for the maintaining of one particular stretch of roads or as usually called – ‘one project of toll road’
  • Toll tax collection happens at a toll booth or a toll plaza that provides a receipt of the payment. The private parties maintaining the toll plaza are also responsible for the provision of water facilities, toilets, and emergency services in case of accidents or fire at these plazas
  • The toll tax decreases with time. Initially, the toll tax is to cover the costs of a newly built road/highway. However, later on, only the maintenance fee at a reduced rate of 40% in the toll tax is charged

Toll Tax Calculation

Toll tax rates vary for different vehicles according to the size and the carriage weight of the vehicles. The toll tax fee also considers the purpose (personal or commercial) of the vehicle. Along with this, the toll tax calculation depends on the following factors-

  • For toll tax rates, the NHAI takes into account the possible damage to the road caused by heavy vehicles, which also includes the load that these vehicles carry like those of buses or trucks
  • In addition to the load capacity, the size of the vehicle also determines the PCU (Passenger Car Unit) upon which the toll tax is calculated
  • Because of the reasons mentioned in the above two points, there is no toll tax charge for pedestrians or two-wheeler owners. As per the rules of the Government of India, vehicles with a capacity of less than one PCU (Passenger Car Unit) are exempted from paying toll tax. Bikes or two-wheeled vehicles are equivalent to the same. Hence, they are exempted
  • Four-wheelers like cars, trucks, buses, etc. have more PCUs. They are also heavy, carry more load and do more damage to the roads. Hence, the NHAI levies a higher toll tax amount on them. Buses or trucks have 3-4 PCUs whereas trailers have about 6 PCUs

Toll Tax Collection Through FASTag

Electronic Toll Collection is a new and effective way of toll tax collection, to facilitate this, the Government of India has introduced FASTags. FASTags use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology for cashless toll tax payments. Therefore, there is an automatic deduction from the bank account of the individual as the vehicle approaches the toll booth. Moreover, from 15 February 2021, FASTags have been made mandatory for all four-wheeled vehicles. 35 national banks, governed by NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) operate the FASTags. Other than enabling digital payments, the use of FASTag also saves time and fuel as the passerby does not need to stop at every booth.

Difference Between a Road Tax and a Toll Tax

One of the most frequently asked questions is why to pay the toll tax after the road tax. It is also a very common doubt as to what is the difference between the two. As mentioned earlier, toll tax is levied only on certain specific tollways. For instance, national or state highway roads for their maintenance and covering the construction costs. It is for the roads under NHAI whereas the road tax is for the state roads. In other words, it is for the road infrastructure of that state where you register your vehicle at the nearest Regional Transport Office (RTO).

Also, the toll tax is applicable only on four-wheeled or larger vehicles. However, those vehicle drivers who do not pass through toll roads do not pay the toll tax. On the other hand, the road tax applies to every vehicle owner, irrespective of the size/type of vehicle.

Comparison Table Between Toll-Tax & Road Tax

Here is a table that explains the basic difference between a road tax and a toll tax:

Note: Car Tax or Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is to be paid every year as per the new norms effective from April 2021. It depends on the age of the car (older than 40 years are exempt) and the carbon emissions, that is how polluting the car is.

Exemptions & Discounts for Toll Tax

As per the National Informatics Center (NIC), there is a list of people and vehicles that are exempted from paying the toll tax according to Rule 9 of The National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008. They are listed below-

  1. Exempted Dignitaries

No toll tax shall be levied and collected from a mechanical vehicle transporting and accompanying:

  • President of India
  • Vice-President of India
  • Prime-Minister of India
  • Governor of a State
  • Chief Justice of India
  • Speaker of the House of People
  • Cabinet Minister of the Union
  • Chief Minister of a State
  • Judge of the Supreme Court
  • Minister of State of the Union
  • Lieutenant Governor of a Union territory
  • Chief of Staff holding the rank of full General or equivalent rank
  • Chairman of the Legislative Council of a State
  • Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of a State
  • Chief Justice of a High Court
  • Judge of a High Court
  • Member of Parliament
  • Army Commander of Vice-Chief of Army Staff and equivalent in other services
  • Chief Secretary to a State Government within the concerned State
  • Secretary to the Government of India
  • Council of States Secretary
  • Secretary, House of People
  • Foreign dignitary on a State visit
  • Member of Legislative Assembly of a State and the Member of Legislative Council of a State within their respective State, if he or she produces his or her identity card issued by the concerned Legislature of the State
  • Awardee of Param Vir Chakra, Ashok Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra, Kirti Chakra, Vir Chakra, and Shaurya Chakra, if such awardee produces his or her photo identity card duly authenticated by the appropriate or competent authority for such award
  1. Exempted Vehicles

No toll tax is charged from vehicles used for the official purpose by:

  • Ministry of Defense including those which are eligible for exemption under the provisions of the Indian Toll (Army and Air Force) Act, 1901 and rules made thereunder, as extended to Navy also
  • Central and State armed forces in uniform. This also includes Paramilitary forces and police
  • An Executive Magistrate
  • Fire-fighting departments or organization
  • National Highway Authority of India or any other Government organization using such vehicles for inspection or survey. Also, if used for the construction or operation of national highways and the maintenance thereof
  • Used as an ambulance
  • Used as a funeral van
  • Mechanical vehicles that are specially designed and constructed for the use by a person suffering from a physical disability
  1. Exemptions For Common People

Apart from the above exemptions, there are a few situations where toll tax discounts for common people can be extended as follows:

  • The executing authority or the concessionaire, as the case may be, shall upon request, provide a pass for multiple journeys to cross a user fee plaza within the specified period at the rates specified in sub-rule (2) of rule 9
  • A driver, owner, or person in charge of a mechanical vehicle who makes use of the section of National Highway, permanent bridge, bypass or tunnel, may opt for such a pass and he/she shall have to pay the toll tax per the following rates, namely
  1. Vehicles For Non-Commercial Purpose

A person who owns a mechanical vehicle registered for non-commercial purposes and uses it as such for commuting on a section of the National Highway, permanent bridge, bypass, or tunnel may obtain a pass, on the payment of toll tax fees at the base rate for the year 2007-2008 of rupees one hundred and fifty per calendar month and revised annually following the Rule 5, authorizing it to cross the user fee plaza specified in such pass:

  • Provided that such pass shall be issued only if such driver, owner, or person in charge of a mechanical vehicle resides within 20 kilometres from the user fee plaza. It is specified by the person. Also, the use of such section of the national highway, permanent bridge, bypass, or tunnel, as the case may be, does not extend beyond the user fee plaza next to the specified user fee plaza
  • Also, provided further that no such pass shall be issued if a service road or alternative road is available
  1. Vehicles Registered with District’s Registration Certificate

Other than the point above, a person who owns a mechanical vehicle registered with the address on the Registration Certificate of a particular district and uses such a vehicle for commuting. It also excludes the vehicle plying under a National Permit. Therefore, the vehicle can commute on a section of the national highway, permanent bridge, bypass, or tunnel, as the case may be. This must be located within that distance. The commuters shall be levied user fees on all user fee plazas located within that district. The user fee is at the rate of 50% of the prescribed rate of toll tax fee with a further provision. The provision is that no such pass shall be issued if a service road or alternative road is available.

  1. The User of a Section of a Toll Road

In addition to others, no pass shall be issued or toll tax fee collected from an owner of a mechanical vehicle that uses part of the section of a national highway. Also, if the driver does not cross a user fee plaza. It applies not only to the owner but also to the driver or person in charge of the vehicle when passing by.

Wrapping it up: The toll tax is an important means of regular revenue to upgrade the roads as per the latest requirements for a smooth travel experience. The use of FASTag has further eased the process of payment where you can go cashless and avoid waiting in long queues for your turn at the toll plaza. Get your FASTag at the earliest as it has been made mandatory from 15 February 2021. If you don’t have the FASTag affixed to your four-wheeler, you will have to pay double the toll tax amount.


What if I don't pay the toll tax?

If you don’t pay the toll tax, your license renewal will not be done unless the due amount is paid. Also, your registration may get cancelled if RTO is informed and they hold it against you. Additionally, the toll tax will rather get incremented because of added fines.

Can I pay toll tax without FASTag?

Yes, you can pay toll tax without a FASTag but you will be required to pay double the toll charges.

Do local vehicle users near the toll plaza also have to pay the toll tax?

Local vehicle users registered in the nearby RTOs within 20 km are exempted from the toll tax. But, it is only after application and necessary documents submission. They are given a monthly pass for a minimal cost which is valid for five years for government vehicles and one year for private ones.

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