2040 might seem a long way off, but it'll be on us before you know it. What's more, we've just had our first glimpse of what that future will look like. The UK government has announced a total ban on all sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.

With the state pension age edging up to 67 in the next few years, a lot of us will probably still be driving to work by then. In the meantime, though, let's take a look at what's happening in the car industry, and what it means for the workers of the future...

Pollution and the Clean Air Strategy

We've all seen the films. We know what the future holds. It's either smog choked megacities, rain soaked neon or blasted deserts full of guns and spiky cars.

At the heart of the matter is pollution, and the ways that dirty air can impact people's health. To tackle this, the government set out a £3 billion clean air strategy. The hard ban coming into force in 2040 is a big part of that, but we're going to feel the effects of it much sooner.

The main barrier stopping people from shifting over to electric cars is probably the cost. Right now, you're basically stuck between buying a fairly affordable car that needs constant, lengthy recharging or a more efficient model at a crazy price. That said, those costs are already starting to come down, and there are people working hard on the efficiency of the vehicles. You can read more about this on our electric vs petrol comparison blog.

With work travel taking up more and more time, and the costs rising faster than wages every year, it's important to make sure you're not paying more that you should be to get there.

At RIFT, our great relationship with HMRC means so you can be sure we'll be aware of the latest rules and regulations before they even come into force. If the use, purchase or expenses for electric vehicles grant you any extra benefits, or need to be declared in a certain way, our specialist travel tax refunds specialists will be the first to know and make sure you don't lose out.

We've also got a Research & Development division that keeps its finger on the pulse of advances in technology. It's how we help our clients stay ahead of the game.

Since travel is a major part of most tax refund claims, anything that changes that landscape pricks our ears up.

The New VED (Vehicle Emissions Duty) System

In April this year, the new VED tax system came into force. One of the major changes it brought in was that low emissions no longer meant zero tax.

Under the current scheme, only completely emissions-free vehicles get you off the tax hook entirely. By a strange quirk, this actually meant that people with low-emission cars were the biggest losers in the new system. Obviously, high-polluters are still paying more, but going up from zero tax was a nasty shock for many.

Between now and that 2040 cut-off, we're going to start seeing a shift toward all-electric vehicles. It'll probably be slow at first, but VED advantages, falling costs and better technology are going to keep stacking up. There are still a lot of questions to answer before we reach the all-electric future, of course. However, the most innovative minds in the business are hard at work to solve the problems – and that brings us back to tax again.

If you do change, or get rid of, your car then don't forget you've probably got road tax to claim back.

What else will change?

Major changes like this can't happen in isolation. If we're all using electric cars to get to work then there's going to be a lot related buildings and infrastructure that are going to need to change - and that means someone has to build them.

It's worth knowing that the government has a Research & Development Tax Credits scheme to encourage and reward innovation. Industries like construction basically thrive on innovation, with every project posing unique challenges to tackle it's actually so common that many people just think of it "as part of the job". That's exactly the kind of work the scheme's designed for, but far too many companies are missing out.

If you own or work for a company that's advancing what we know and can do, talk to RIFT about the R&D Tax Credits scheme.

Meanwhile, we'll keep our eyes on the road to make sure that you make the most of your tax refunds. With RIFT's help, however the future of work travel turns out, it won't involve turning out your pockets to the taxman.

RIFT are the UK's leading tax rebate and tax return experts.  We've been in the industry since 1999. Use our tax refund calculator to get an estimate of how much cash you could be owed.