Car tax evasion soars after end of paper discs 0

The number of cars evading tax has grown more than double since the scrapping of paper tax discs in October last year, with the government now losing around £80 million in revenue.

The Department for Transport estimates the number of untaxed cars on the roads has hit 560,000. That’s more than double the 210,000 in 2013, the last time the survey was carried out. The rise in unlicensed vehicles is said to be caused by the switch from paper tax discs, to the new electronic system.


It’s not clear whether this rise in tax evasion is because people are unaware that the rules regarding car tax have changed, or if people are using the switch to the electronic system as an excuse. The new system also means that any remaining tax left when a vehicle is sold to a new owner is refunded to the seller, rather than carrying on, which requires the new owner to re-tax the car themselves. It may be that people are unaware of this new rule and they aren’t re-taxing a car after they buy it second-hand.

The change came because authorities were mostly using automatic name plate recognition (ANPR) to find tax-evaders, rather than the paper discs. It was also brought in to save money – predicted £10 million – and make it easier for drivers to renew their tax annually. But it’s now looking like the change wasn’t quite as ‘efficient’ as the DVLA had hoped. It started with thousands of unaware drivers being clamped, various admin issues, and now the 560,000 unlicensed cars are causing losses of around £80 million in vehicle excise duty revenue.

The paper disc was an easy reminder for drivers, as it was right in front of them. Now they rely on letters and email notifications from the DVLA. And the authorities now rely on the electronic records from the DVLA and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology to catch tax-evaders.

David Bizley, RAC chief engineer, says: “These are very worrying and disappointing statistics indeed. Sadly, the concerns we raised about the number of car tax evaders going up at the time the tax disc was confined to history have become a reality.”

“We really cannot afford for this to increase again for the sake of both road safety and the country’s finances. Hopefully, much of the increase in evasion is due to the system being new and these figures will reduce as motorists become more familiar with how it works.”



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