Drivers ‘not adequately warned’ over end of tax discs
Government faces criticism for leaving motorists confused and at risk of fines
Yahoo Finance UK/Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire – The government faces criticism for leaving motorists confused and at risk of fines
Nearly three million used cars change hands each year and drivers who inadvertently flout the new rules face fines of up to £1,000.
Motoring organisations said the Government had failed to provide enough information on the reforms, causing confusion among motorists and car dealers.
Tim Marriott, a spokesman for the Auto Trader website, said: “There has been a lack of guidance and advice.
“Anyone buying a new car will no longer be able to benefit if there are months left on a car’s tax disc as their tax will no longer be transferred with the car, so buyers will need to renew their disc straightaway or risk facing a fine.”
Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA, said: “Vast numbers of people could be hit, as many car sales involve someone saying ‘I’ve put tax on the car for you’.
“That this will no longer be possible has not been well-communicated at all.” Under the new rules, car sellers must tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) immediately of the change of ownership, and the new owner must register to pay tax before driving the car away.
Motorists who drive a car away with the intention of asking the DVLA to transfer a disc to their name will be breaking the law, Mr Watters said. He also said that people who rented or borrowed vehicles would have “no way of knowing” whether the car tax was up-to-date without checking an online register first. Drivers of borrowed or rented vehicles which are untaxed face £50 fines.
A poll by money.co.uk found 50 per cent of drivers could not name the date the reform took effect.
The price comparison website found six per cent of motorists believed the changes were not coming into force until next year.
Car dealerships have also been “left in the dark” over the changes, industry sources said, and could accidentally break the law. James Batchelor, editor of Car Dealer Magazine, said: “Car dealerships are extremely confused and angry.
“The government hasn’t gone nearly far enough to educate the buyers or sellers on how the new tax disc system will work.” He said second-hand car sales could take “far longer” due to the complexities of ensuring a vehicle is properly taxed.
The DVLA only began sending notifications to a small number of drivers this month.
A spokesman said there was information online and “good coverage on social media”. “We’ve been working with stakeholders and commercial customers to make sure businesses and the public are aware of what the changes will mean for them,” the spokesman said.
What is happening?
The car tax disc, which was introduced in 1921, will cease to exist in paper form from October 1. A new electronic system will take its place.
No more tax?
Not quite. You can tear up the disc police will no longer check them but tax will still be due.
Why the change, then?
The move should ‘save taxpayers £10 million’ in the hunt for tax dodgers, government estimates suggest. The digital system should streamline services, saving businesses millions of pounds a year in administrative costs, the DVLA said.
What do I have to do?
Nothing until your disc is due for renewal. At that point, you will receive renewal notice to pay online, by phone or in the Post Office. You will be able to reduce the hassle by setting up a direct debit under the new system.
How will those who don’t pay be spotted?
Number plates are all the police need to identify those breaching rules. An online database includes every car’s tax status next to the registration number. Drivers will be watched by cameras on the roads and inspectors armed with access the database. Non-payers will receive warnings when tax is overdue.
Can I sell my tax disc with the car?
No. This is the biggest departure from the paper-based system. Sellers will not be able to transfer tax with ownership of the vehicle. So anyone who buys a used car will no longer benefit if there are months left on the tax disc. This means buyers will have to renew their tax disc straight away, or risk being caught out on the road in an untaxed car.
The seller of the vehicle is responsible for informing the DVLA of a change of ownership, otherwise they could face a £1,000 fine.
Can I claim the tax if I sell?
Yes. When the DVLA is notified, vehicle sellers will get an automatic refund for any full calendar months left on the vehicle tax. This is the case today, but just seven in 10 sellers claim a refund.