Digital car tax: The big switch over

In the 21st century age where everything is automated and computerised, yet another every day task has joined the digital revolution with paper tax discs for cars becoming a thing of the past. Road tax has been compulsory since the 19th century, and although it will continue to be part of the motor industry its processing will be very different from now on.
Starting in October 2014, motorists wishing to tax their vehicle via an electronic database that will automatically track who has and who hasn’t paid the necessary taxation, issuing a £1000 fine to those who don’t pay up.

Anyone with a paper road tax disc will not need to do anything until they come to renew in which case they can do so as normal through the post office of online, however the existing disc itself will be rendered unnecessary from next month. The lack of a tax disc will have no adverse effect on the capture of road tax evaders thanks to the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras which track all cars up and down the country, and if anything the new system leaves no room for error or late tax disc applications thus cracking down on motorists who are trying to pull a fast one. Also the authorities have access to the Police National Computer system which contains a comprehensive database of all UK motorists that the Police can check at any time.

The one area where motorists will most notice the difference in having a paper and electronic tax disc is when purchasing a new car. Previously new owners could benefit from the current taxation left on their new vehicle, however from October vehicle tax will not be transferred with the vehicle. This means that anyone buying a new or second car will have to renew the tax straight away regardless of how many months may be left on the vehicle, however the seller is entitled to claim a refund for all full months of unused vehicle tax from the DVLA. Furthermore, the seller is responsibility for informing the DVLA of the changes of ownership upon selling any vehicle, and failure to do so will result in an automatic fine.

The hope is that by streamlining the road tax service, the DVLA can save British businesses millions of pounds a year in administrative bills plus help to lower insurance premiums by eliminating tax evaders from UK roads. In order to check if your vehicle is taxed correctly you can visit the DVLA’s Vehicle Enquiry System, and when your tax is due for renewal you will receive a reminder in the post or by email as usual.
The potential cons however are that the digital system could make it easier for car thieves to operate as they can disguise stolen vehicles with false number plates from a correctly taxed vehicle in the same make, model and colour, as the ANPR cameras cannot distinguish between the two vehicles. Overall the digital switch over will bring a sigh of relief for many motorists who have one less paper pushing exercise to worry about each year.