Tax disc overhaul – all you need to know

Today's the day - October 1, 2014 - that the legal obligation to display a paper tax disc on your vehicle disappears.
So what exactly is happening? Here’s a Q&A to tell you everything you need to know…

What’s happening today?

As of today, October 1, you no longer need to display a paper tax disc. But that DOESN’T mean you no longer need to tax your vehicle. In fact, let’s be quite clear: YOU STILL NEED TO PAY THE TAX! (Or Vehicle Excise Duty, to give it its proper name.)

Presumably this is a cost-saving measure?

Yep. The whole thing is going online, so there’ll be £10 million of savings on the cost of printing and distributing 30-million plus discs every year. From now on, the police will quiz the DVLA database about a vehicle’s tax status rather than relying on the presence of a current, valid disc. Cameras able to read registration plates will identify untaxed vehicles.

What is the penalty for not paying the tax?

Drive without tax and you’ll cop a £80 fine and risk another financial penalty of up to £1,000 if the case proceeds to court. Your vehicle could be clamped and then impounded, at which point the punitive fees would really begin to snowball. As the saying goes, if you can’t afford to tax (and insure) your car, you can’t afford to drive it.

I’ve still got time to run on my vehicle tax. Do I wait till it runs out before ditching the disc?

No. If you want, you can remove the disc on October 1 (and keep it to show your grandchildren, maybe). It’s a universal change on that day. That said, you don’t have to remove it. It’s just that you no longer have to show it. If you live in Northern Ireland, you still need to display your MoT disc.

What about parking and driving abroad?

The DVLA has told all local authorities that no tax discs will be issued after October 1 and that no-one is obliged to display one from that point onwards, so no need to worry about triggering a parking ticket by not having a disc on show. Likewise the Authority has told theEuropean Union that UK-registered vehicles travelling in the EU will no longer be displaying tax discs. [embed width="600" height="355"][/embed]

So what happens when my tax runs out?

The world divides into those who know on a reflex when their road tax expires and those who have to nip outside and read their disc to find out. For those of us in the second camp, the good news is that DVLA will still send out a V11 or V85/1 renewal reminder when a vehicle’s tax is due to expire. This applies to all types of vehicles, including those that are exempt from payment of vehicle tax or have a nil rate of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). If your vehicle is laid up you must still tax it or apply to DVLA for a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN). Remember: if and when you want to take it back on the road, you need to tax it first.

Remind me how to sort the tax out…

You can apply online via  to tax or SORN your vehicle using your 16-digit reference number from your vehicle tax renewal reminder (the V11 or V85/1 forms mentioned above) or 11 digit reference number from your log book (V5C).

Any other changes?

Yes, specifically affecting car buyers and sellers. From October 1, when you BUY a vehicle, the vehicle tax will no longer be transferred with the vehicle. In other words, you will need to get fresh vehicle tax for the vehicle BEFORE you can use it. You can do this by using the New Keeper Supplement (V5C/2) part of the vehicle registration certificate (V5C), either online or by using the automated ‘any time’ phone service on 0300 123 4321. Or you can do the job at a Post Office branch that offers the service – and this is your only option if you’re in Northern Ireland new keeper, where the online and phone options aren’t available. If you are SELLING a vehicle after 1 October and you’ve notified DVLA, you’ll automatically get a refund for any full calendar months left on the vehicle tax. Same applies for transfers of ownership, scrapping (at an Authorised Treatment Facility), exporting, becoming exempt or being taken off-road via a SORN. Another change worth keeping an eye open for is the ability to pay for your car tax by direct debit. This facility comes into play on November 1.
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When the tax discs disappear, we'll be using our tax disc holders for emergency biscuits, what will you be using yours for? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter using the hashtag #SOMSM

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