US servicemembers in UK lose reimbursement for road, TV fees
Stars and Stripes
This report has been corrected.
RAF MILDENHALL, England — As of March 1, U.S. servicemembers in the United Kingdom are no longer being reimbursed for fees they pay annually for a road tax disc and a television license.
Servicemembers who paid the two fees before March 1 can file for reimbursement, but payments made after February will not be reimbursed, said Maj. Charles Barkhurst, commander of the 100th Comptroller Squadron at RAF Mildenhall. The road tax disc fee varies, depending on the type of vehicle, but runs servicemembers on average about $340 to $350, and the TV license fee is about $220.
Most car owners must purchase and display a vehicle tax disc, commonly called a road tax disc, on the windshield if they drive in the U.K.
A television license is required for anyone watching or recording a live television broadcast, even if on a computer or other device, according to tvlicensing.co.uk, the website of the agency that handles the licenses.
Reimbursement for the two expenses was considered “cost-of-living allowance for unique expenses” and was paid out in addition to the standard cost-of-living allowance servicemembers around the world receive to offset higher costs of goods and services.
The road tax and television license fees have been considered unique expenses for about 10 years, Barkhurst said. The Per Diem Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee had separated them from the overseas COLA because not every servicemember had a car or television and therefore didn’t have to pay the fees.
Early in 2012, however, the committee started discussing with U.S. military officials in the U.K. the possibility of ending the reimbursements on the grounds that the road tax and television license did not meet the standard of exceeding 1 percent of a typical servicemember’s base pay, Barkhurst said, adding that the Department of Defense defines a typical servicemember as an E6 with 10 years of service and three dependents.
The original version of this report published on March 1, 2013, contained inaccurate information. The report should have said that Maj. Charles Barkhurst, commander of the 100th Comptroller Squadron at RAF Mildenhall, said the TV license fee is about $220.