End of the road for tax discs

Almost a century’s motoring history has come to an end today as car owners are no longer required to display vehicle tax discs.

Motorists are being warned to be aware of what the changes mean for them – and failure to take note could see you hit with a fine of up to £1,000.

Car owners still need to have paid vehicle tax to drive or keep a vehicle on the road.

From today, police cameras will automatically check a car’s number plate to check that this has been paid.

PC David Price of Devon and Cornwall Police said: “The tax disc has been in place now since the 1920s, and as we move forward and technology improves, we’re in a position where the DVLA can enforce the legislation around not having a tax disc remotely, so the technology is just moving with the times.”

Motorists are being offered the choice of applying for VED renewal on line or by visiting a Post Office.

The road tax shake up will also enable drivers to spread the cost pay the tax by monthly direct debit.

Until now drivers paying by direct debit have had to pay every six or 12 months – and those making a payment twice a year have had to stump up a ten per cent surcharge.

But from now on the surcharge will be halved to five per cent, saving drivers who were paying every six months an average of £8 a year.

Ian Gallagher, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) lead on driver licensing and vehicle registration said: “This is a fundamental shift in the way that the DVLA carries out its business, the removal of a paper disc which was introduced in 1921 is just a first step towards more and more services moving online.

“The FTA believes that the challenge for the agency moving forwards is to ensure that the systems it designs consider all user groups and particularly bulk business sector requirements.”

The FTA said that the Government had said that switching to digital tax discs will cost £8 million to set up but will save £2 million a year in administrative costs within three years.

But the RAC has expressed fears that, with the end of the paper disc, the number of motorists failing to pay the tax could become as high as the number who drive without insurance.

The motoring organisation said that this could result in a £167 million a year loss to the Exchequer.

However the DVLA said there is “no basis” to the RAC figures, adding that it was “nonsense” to suggest that getting rid of the tax disc would lead to an increase in vehicle tax evasion.

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