Tax disc changes - don't get caught out

A clamped car

Hefty fines to release cars that have been clamped and towed are hitting motorists since the switch to digital car tax in October.

Recent figures show a 60% rise in the number of cars clamped in the first three months of 2015 compared to the previous year.

Thousands of drivers have been forced to fork out for penalty charges after having their cars towed for failing to pay car tax - even if they still have a paper disc on display.

So why are motorists falling foul of the law?

Since 1st October, when someone buys a second-hand vehicle, the tax no longer transfers with it - the change to digital means the Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) of a used car is automatically cancelled when it changes hands.

A spokesman for the DVLA said: "The changes make life easier for drivers and we have made every effort to inform the public by writing to new owners when they buy a car. It is up to the owner to make sure their car is properly taxed, however."

So why are motorists falling foul of the law?

Tax discs

If you're looking to buy a used car, you'll need to renew the tax even if the paper disc hasn't expired. You can tax the vehicle using the New Keeper Supplement (V5C/2) part of the vehicle registration certificate (V5C) either online or by calling the DVLA's 24-hour automated phone service on 0300 123 4321. Or you can still pop into your local Post Office.

The government abolished paper tax discs in October 2014, since then, when a driver taxes their car they no longer receive a paper tax disc in the post; records are now kept online instead.

Selling a vehicle & tax refunds

You no longer need to make a separate application for a refund of vehicle tax; if you're selling a vehicle and have notified the DVLA, you'll automatically get a refund for any full calendar months left on the tax.

The DVLA will also issue automatic refunds, after a notification is received, if the car has been:

  • Scrapped at an Authorised Treatment Facility
  • Exported
  • Removed from the road and the person on the vehicle register has made a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) or
  • The person on the vehicle register has changed the tax class on the vehicle to an exempt duty tax class

Paying vehicle tax by Direct Debit

You can now pay for vehicle tax via Direct Debit and it's available for customers taxing their vehicle annually, six-monthly or monthly (12 months tax paid for on a monthly basis).

Provided an MOT remains valid, the payments will continue automatically until you tell the DVLA to stop taking them or you cancel the Direct Debit with your bank.

The Direct Debit will be cancelled and payments automatically stopped when you inform the DVLA that you no longer have the vehicle, or that it's been taken off the road and a SORN has been made.

When the Direct Debit scheme can't be used

Paying by Direct Debit will not be available to:

  • First registration vehicles
  • Fleet schemes
  • HGVs that pay the Road User Levy (all other HGVs can pay by Direct Debit)

Checking tax

You can check the tax status of any vehicle online and can also be used for rental vehicles.

You can apply online to tax or SORN your vehicle using your 16-digit reference number from your vehicle tax renewal reminder (V11) or 11-digit reference number from your log book (V5C).

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