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Are Electric Tax Discs Already Causing Problems?

Electronic Tax Discs Have Finally Been Implemented Across The UK, But Are They Already Causing Problems?

Oct 08, 2014

Are Electric Tax Discs Already Causing Problems?

On 1st October, the requirement to display a tax disc in your car was finally removed. While you will still have to tax your vehicle every year, you will no longer have to display the small disc on your windscreen. The DVLA also changed the way in which drivers can pay for their road tax and the way that tax is treated when you buy and sell a car with road tax remaining.

However, motoring organisations and politicians have criticised the DVLA after thousands of people were unable to renew their car tax online. We look at how the changes affect you and whether the new rules are already causing problems for drivers. Keep reading to find out more.

Electric road tax – what has changed

From October this year the traditional tax disc will disappear after 93 years on the nation’s windscreens. While you still have to tax your vehicle, you no longer have to display the ‘vehicle excise duty’ disc.

You still need to have paid the appropriate vehicle tax to drive or keep a vehicle on the road and you can do this online or via a Post Office branch. However, instead of displaying a tax disc, police cameras will automatically check your number plate to establish if the road tax has been paid.

The changes also mean that from October you will be able to spread the cost of road tax by paying for your tax by monthly direct debit. In addition, drivers will now not be able to transfer any unused road tax when buying a used car.

The Government has said the abolition of tax discs and the rule changes will eventually save the DVLA around £7 million a year. However, thousands of drivers trying to use the new system in the early days found they couldn’t renew their tax, as we see next.

DVLA website overloaded as thousands unable to renew car tax

Thousands of customers have been unable to renew their car tax online, after the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website was unable to cope with demand. The BBC reported that some motorists had spent up to 13 hours online trying to get their car tax renewed.

The DVLA said the site had seen ‘an unprecedented volume of traffic’ but denied that the system had crashed. The agency said that an extra 30,000 people had visited the site, compared to the same day last year.

A spokeswoman said: “It’s just slow. We have unprecedented demand and some customers may be experiencing slow response times. We are very sorry for any inconvenience and are urgently investigating to improve service. More than 270,000 people ­successfully used the online car tax service.”

Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh said: “Despite months of warning, ministers failed to prepare properly for today’s digital switch.”

If you have been unable to renew your car tax online you can still use a Post Office branch. Kevin Seller, head of government services at the Post Office, said: “We would like to reassure the millions of people who purchase their motor vehicle licence in Post Office branches that they can continue to do this.”

Leading motoring organisation complains of ‘double taxation’

While thousands of drivers have been unable to renew their car tax under the new system, a leading motoring organisation has criticised the new rules for generating ‘double taxation’ for the government.

The AA says that under the new tax disc system, someone buying a car will no longer be able to benefit from any unused period on the disc. While car buyers will need to renew the tax immediately, sellers are not allowed a refund for just part of a month.

For example, if a car is sold on the first day of the month, both buyer and seller will have paid the tax for that month.

"Someone driving a car that costs £500 a year to tax would lose £41 if they sold it at the beginning of the month," said Edmund King, the AA's president. "Likewise a buyer purchasing a car mid month would have to pay Vehicle Excise Duty for the entire month," he added.

The DVLA have argued that the new rules will not bring in much additional revenue. It said it has always been the case that car sellers were only credited for each whole month that the disc was not used, adding that 65 per cent of cars bought do not include tax passed on by the previous owner.

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