The Hidden Purpose of the Tax Disc Reforms


In 2014, the Government announced sweeping changes to the pre-existing tax disc system. These changes claimed to make the process simpler by cutting down on administration and giving motorists the freedom to pay their tax in flexible instalments rather than annually.

The Hidden Purpose of the Tax Disc Reforms

But, since these changes have been introduced we've been spotting mistakes being made that are catching out unwitting motorists – which may actually be to the governments benefit.

The Changes Catching Motorists Out

From the 1st October 2014, the rules were changed so that tax discs are no longer issued, and don't need to be displayed in the car. You must now go online to renew the tax on your vehicle.

The Government website assures that the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will send a V11 renewal letter informing us that the car tax is due to expire, and reminding us to renew it. This should then be followed by a reminder letter 2 weeks after the tax hasn't been renewed.

The issue with this change is that many motorists have been left in the dark about the new rules, and for many, the V11 reminders aren't being received.

The number of complaints regarding V11 letters has also risen from 16 in October 2013 to September 2014, to 24 in the following year as found by a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. This suggests more people aren't being sent the letters, resulting in increasing numbers of individuals being caught out.

The penalties for keeping an untaxed vehicle on the road include:
  • The DVLA issuing an Out of Court Settlement (OCS) letter with a fine of £289. Failure to pay can result in prosecution.
  • The vehicle may be clamped, removed to a pound and may be later disposed of.
Furthermore, the DVLA state; "The non-receipt of the reminder is not considered a justifiable reason for failing to tax the vehicle or make a SORN declaration."

How Much is the Government Gaining?

An FOI request has also revealed the true extent of the increase in fines by the government since the changes have been implemented.

The request asked how many fines have been issued to drivers for using a vehicle without tax in the year before the changes, it found that between October 2013 and September 2014, 111,773 fines were issued. The following year after the changes were introduced sees this increase massively to 192,530.

It's plain to see that the rise in fines is seeing a hefty raise in revenue for the government, which is estimated to be an extra £31 million since the disc was abolished. It is fair to say that these reforms, coupled with a number of V11 forms failing to be sent are contributing to this.

If you've received an OCS and wish to contest it, it's crucial to first seek legal advice and speak to a specialist motoring offences solicitor. Our motoring offences team at Simpson Millar LLP will be able to advise you on your current situation and support you fully if you're facing prosecution.

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