In Depth

Untaxed cars have tripled since paper discs were scrapped

Some buyers may be ‘forgetting’ to tax second-hand vehicles

The amount of untaxed vehicles on Britain’s roads has tripled since paper tax discs were abolished, The Guardian reports.

Figures from the Department for Transport reveal that 1.8% of car owners “failed to pay or renew vehicle excise duty”, the newspaper says. That equates to around 700,000 vehicles, which are “mostly cars and light goods vehicles.”

It’s a substantial increase on the 0.6% of car owners who failed to pay tax in 2013, the paper adds, which was the penultimate year of the paper disc. This resulted in the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) collecting £200m less in tax between 2016-17 compared to 2013-14.

The RAC’s public affairs chief, Nicholas Lyes, says that the principle of abolishing the tax disc was to introduce greater efficiencies has “evidently failed.” 

“It appears that having a visual reminder was an effective way to prompt drivers into renewing their car tax – arguably more drivers are now prepared to try their luck and see if they can get away with not paying any vehicle tax at all”, he says, “or are simply forgetting to tax their vehicle when they are due to.” 

Lyes also said that a third of untaxed vehicles were the result of a change of ownership, where buyers forgot to tax their new vehicle after purchasing it.  

Currently, road tax is not transferred when a car’s ownership changes.

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