1st October marked a momentous occasion in the history of car tax – after 93 years of adorning car windscreens, the paper tax disc system has now been abolished, and has been replaced by a purely digital solution. Police rarely check paper discs to determine whether a car does have tax, and instead rely on a central database and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems that can determine whether a car has the appropriate tax in place. However, critics have not only slammed some of the changes, but also the way that the DVLA have handled the implementation of the changes.
The majority of car owners will not yet be affected by the changes, except that they are able to throw away the paper tax discs in their car windscreens, if they choose to. It is only when it comes time to renew, or when buying and selling cars, that most people will really notice the effects of the new system.
The DVLA has said that scrapping the current paper scheme will save them money, and that the paper discs are used so rarely as a means of checking tax that they have become largely useless anyway. It is possible to check online, while police use number plate recognition systems to identify whether a car has the appropriate tax in place, in the same way that they check car insurance details too.
The RAC has estimated that the new plans will cost car owners £38m a year due to double taxation. If a car is sold on any day except for the first of the month, it means that the DVLA will receive a full month of tax from the buyer and from the seller. The group has calculated that the average monthly car tax cost is £14, and that 2.7 million used cars are sold annually, leading to a double taxation of £38m per annum.
When it is time to renew, the DVLA has said that it will send reminders and these will include direct debit forms, which can be taken to the Post Office, and have confirmed that owners can still pay for their tax at a local Post Office branch if they wish.