The government recently announced that from 1 October 2014, paper tax discs will no longer be issued — instead, a computerised record will be kept that will be used by police, insurers and others who need to verify a car’s tax status.
At present, you can sell a car with a valid tax disc, and the remainder of the tax will pass to the new owner. Used car adverts often feature comments such as ‘nine months tax and test’, informing potential buyers that the car has nine months’ MOT and road tax.
Under the new system, anyone buying a secondhand vehicle will have to tax it themselves on purchase, while the owner will have to either lose the remainder of the tax, or claim a refund for unused months from the DVLA.
Since around 2.7m cars changed hands privately each year (2012 data), this change will have quite a big impact on the motoring public, and is likely to prove unpopular.
The reason given for the change is simple and seems logical — without a paper tax disc, there is no way for a private motorist to know whether a vehicle is taxed or not, so there would be a high risk of sellers lying about how much tax was left, leaving the innocent purchaser driving around illegally with no tax.
Of course, the obvious solution to this would be for the DVLA to provide an online database that drivers can use to see whether a car is taxed or not. This is already possible with both insurance and MOTs, so the technology shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
However, there are currently no plans to create a similar system for road tax, and the Finance Bill 2014, which includes the change to a paperless road tax system, includes a clause to end the transferability of Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax), so it looks like this may be the end of the road for ‘T&T’ in used car ads…