Tax disc changes causing confusion for million of drivers

Tax disc changes causing confusion for million of drivers 6th May 2015

The paper tax disc, displayed in the windscreen of every car in the UK, was so much a part of the average car that it was something we took for granted. However, last year, the disc's lifespan of decades came to an end, when the DVLA announced that from October, no one in the UK would need to display a disc in their car, with all the data on taxation of vehicles being held centrally by the organisation. 

However, in the months since the tax disc was laid to rest, there have been some problems for British drivers, with reports from a number of companies saying that it has cost drivers far more than it should have to make the change. 

So where have problems been creeping in? We take a look at some of the most problematic areas and what it has meant for drivers in the UK to abolish the tax disc over the last six months. 

Double charging

One of the biggest problems that has emerged, according to a new report published by the AA, has been the fact that cars are being 'double taxed' for certain months when they've been sold. 

Under the new taxing regulations, a car's buyer must tax it as soon as they buy it, regardless of how long was left on the previous owner's tax, because it no longer carries over from owner to owner. The previous owner can then claim back any months that were unused. 

However, the problem, the AA says, comes from the fact that the previous owner can only claim back full months and not any months that have already started. 

It means that if someone has purchased a car this month, they must pay tax straight away, even if the previous owner is not able to claim back tax for May. This would effectively mean that the same car had been taxed twice for one month. 

The AA said that this anomaly has meant that the government is landing a £38 million windfall from British drivers. Although the DVLA said the figure is not as high as AA estimates, it still means that in many cases, we are seeing cars being taxed twice for being on the road where previously they would have only been taxed once. 

Fines and clamping

Another issue that has come to the fore since the tax disc was scrapped is that some cars are now going untaxed, largely because many motorists are not aware of the changes in law and what they need to do when they buy a car or transfer it between family members. 

Because of the way the system worked for years in the UK, where tax could be transferred from one owner to the next along with the car, many people are completely unaware of the changes, which has meant a surge in the number of untaxed vehicles being clamped and owners being fined. 

According to DVLA figures, before the tax disc was scrapped, it was clamping approximately 5,000 cars per month because they did not have road tax. However, since the paper disc was abolished and new rules introduced, it said that this number rose to over 7,000 almost immediately. 

And it seems that even as time goes on, more needs to be done to educate drivers. In March, some five months since the disc was scrapped, the number being clamped and fined for not having tax discs was still more than 8,000, according to official figures.

What's more, many are even seeing their vehicles clamped or towed without any prior warning. Organisations across the motoring world have called for clemency at a time when people are getting used to the new rules or still haven't heard of them, but the DVLA has remained adamant that drivers should know all about the changes. 

“The changes have been widely publicised and we write to every vehicle keeper to remind them of the new rules before the vehicle tax expires. We also write to every new vehicle keeper when they buy a used vehicle to inform them that they must tax the vehicle before they use it," a spokesman said. 

Posted by Danielle Barge