Road vehicle taxation has been around since … well, road vehicles. The UK’s first road tax schemes for ‘light locomotives’ were introduced in 1896, and then under the Motor Car Act 1903, all road vehicles were taxed at 20 shillings per year.
No doubt that motorists of the day were slightly less aggrieved at paying a fee to actually help build roads and infrastructure, rather than shoring up failing local authorities, or feeding a greedy government.
Car tax evasion
Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is the correct name for what we all know, and call, car tax. It’s been through a few minor shake-ups over the years, and more recently been tweaked to suit the increasing desire to incentivise cleaner transport, but essentially it amounts to the same thing; along with fuel duty, it’s just another way of eeking out a little more money from the motorist.
When the decision was made to drop the physical paper disc to save money (with estimates putting the savings at an expected £10m per annum), car tax evasion levels were around 0.6%, today, that level is around 1.6%, or approximately 634,000 vehicles. Or to put it another way, around £94m lost.
That figure is down slightly from the peak in 2017 – 1.9%, but it’s still very significant.
Clearly the loss of the paper ‘tax disc’ has had an impact, but figures released by the Department for Transport don’t give any clear picture as to why; we know that around 40% of the unlicensed vehicles were over ten years old (around 51% in 2017), and that approximately 11% of the vehicles have been unlicensed for a over a year, so it’s more than a momentary lapse of judgement or memory.
Could this be ‘Austerity Britain’ hitting home? Or just a simple criminal element maximising the lack of enforcement procedures and resource?
Police numbers have fallen by 14% since 2010, that’s over twenty thousand less officers within the service, and of course that has an impact on catching persistent offenders for any crime, least of all car tax evasion.
In our previous VED article, we talked about scrapping the normal VED charge and opting for a pay-as-you-drive style charge – a small incremental extra on top of the regular fuel price would mean that those using the roads would pay more, equally so for ‘dirty’ gas-guzzlers, and of course, there would be no costs associated for collection or enforcement. Quite a simple solution to what seems to being made into a difficult problem.
Perhaps the danger of that would be that those on or below the poverty line would simply shift from risking driving without road tax, to driving without insurance instead; the dilemma of only being able to afford one or the other.
Technically speaking, driving without road tax will automatically invalidate any insurance policy in place anyway, so there’s no difference in the eyes of the law, but there would of course be a saving on the insurance premium.
With the increase of ‘safety’ cameras seemingly being used to replace good old fashioned human resource, you’d have to wonder just how hard it would be to convert them to be ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) capable – automatically detecting those cars driving without road tax, and issuing a fixed penalty notice or at least, triggering a warning for investigation.
Of course, as with any other systems or solutions, there will be instances that are incorrect (like heading to a pre-booked MOT for example), but surely, including some sort of notification system (for the driver to the DVLA) isn’t beyond the realms of possibility?
While it’s easy to think that for whatever solution, the criminally minded will have an answer, but this is about making the whole system easier. Perhaps with an increase in revenue, and fewer costs, the price could be subsidised for those that genuinely can’t afford to run a car, but practical reality dictates that they must.
Time and technology changes everything – from having to write out a cheque, send it through the post and wait for the disc to arrive, to simpler payments at the post office and instant delivery of the tax disc, through to direct debits and no disc. Yes the system is easier than before, and with opening up the process to monthly direct payments it’s more affordable, but we’re a long way short of being optimised, and it’s time for a revamp of the whole system.
Should the government scrap the VED and just place an increment on fuel duty? Do you have a solution as to how we can stop persistent evaders? Let us know in the comments.
Scrap the VED and pay per mile as you go on fuel prices. It’s the fairest way for us motorists who don’t do many miles and those who do 000’s a year pay more. Why should I pay over £300 / year when I only drive 3000 miles and a rep / company only pay £20 / or less a year doing 50k plus.
Scrap the VED in favour of a suitable fuel price increase, please. Then foreigners would have to pay it too. Particularly the French who charge us so much to use their motorways; and the Swiss and Austrians who do similar. I have two vehicles which are fairly rarely used (2000 a year for my car (petrol) and 4000 for my Motorhome (Diesel)) but I still have to pay more than the 20,000 a year Chelsea tractor driver. Not fair is it?
Hi, I have neighbours who drive a car with no vehicle tax + another car used daily without an MOT, both have been reported to the DVLA & the Police as advised, but nothing has been done.
we live in a careless, lawless society.
That’s sad 😪.. we all work hard and pay our way, yet some don’t and seem to get away with it.. so wrong .. yet my husband passed me his phone when our son called and I took the call yet he got done for handling the phone, even though we were not moving (Road works) and he didn’t use the phone, he denied the offence and had to go to court and the policeman lied and said he was using it.. his word against ours .. guess who they believed? My husband who has never even had a speeding ticket and is a hard working 60 year old got a heavy fine.. ..
Easy targets 😏
The police and the judiciary are seriously flawed, to the point in too many cases bordering on corruption. We were taught as young people (many years ago) to respect and sometimes fear the police. NOW, very many people have completely lost their respect for judicial authority and actually FEAR the police more for their dubious interpretations of the law, and less for their authority..
All courts are Kangaroo courts it doesn’t matter whether its a civil court an armed forces court or even a company disciplinary hearing they are all unfair and only hear what they want to hear.
That’s why we need juries. And why ‘They ” are so keen to do away with juries.
IN ALL MY SERVICE I HAVE FOUND THAT THE MILITARY JUSTICE SYSTEM UNDER THE ARMY ACTS AND QUEENS REGULATIONS IS BASICALLY FAIR AND EVEN.
That falls under the current issue about using a phone for communication. Look into seeing if the conviction can be appealed.
Name supplied, I would be advising the neighbouring family that I would be reporting them every day until someone takes notice and removes their cars.
until your car starts getting vandalised by the inbreeds
We have Eastern European scrap merchants in my area, with plenty of old white vans that have been picked up off the scrap heap. None have insurance, MOT or vehicle tax, and 10 minutes after the DVLA have clamped them, they are out with angle grinders, saw off the clamps then add them to the pile already in the back. Nothing is done, these vehicles are a menace to other road users, but it is very rare to see one lifted and taken away. When they do, the residents shrug their shoulders and go visit their bent scrap yard for a replacement.
I think he government should scrap the VED and just place an increment on fuel duty. This seems like a good way to stop persistent evaders. Everyone who drives would be making a contribution.
I think that a tax disc should be reintroduced and that an insurance disc should be displayed as well, this would be a very simple way of bringing to the attention of the authorities as well as the general public that both have been paid.
Too simple for words William. You can’t really expect the intelligentsia in authority to understand simplicity.
In Jersey on the Channel Islands they have always had a combined insurance and tax disc
Was under the impression it was an insurance disc with extra tax applied to the fuel?
In Israel you have to pay car tax first then produce the receipt and 3rd party insurance to get an MOT. If you pass the test a sticker is put on winscreen. This then shows that you have everything required.
But do the authorities really care – that’s the question raised by this debate.
The system of a tax disc, MOT and an insurance certificate are displayed on all vehicles in Italy, located directly behind the rear view mirror. There is no reason whatsoever why the UK can not utilise the same system!
What? You want to apply logic?
In Jersey they pay there Road tax on there fuel but have to display a insurance disc on there windshield this would be good for UK
Adding the tax to the cost of fuel is the fairest way that you can’t avoided.
ABSOLUTELY the fairest and simplest way of making sure that EVERYBODY who puts fuel in their vehicle to use the roads, PAY for the privilege.
I can not agree that it is a privelege, I live in a rural area, the bus network is non existent. Where there was a bus network this has now all but dissapeared due to council / Gov’t cutbacks! there is no option but to use a car!
I’m in the same boat, 10 miles from the nearest anything and very limited public transport.
Also, what about the disabled who’s only source of transport is a car, as walking to catch a bus is impossible(never mind running) and if they live in the sticks? then they only have 2 hopes left :- no hope and the other hope(bob) who is well beyond helping out.
Unless someone steals it from the forecourt, bilking? Or someone’s car?
10 years ago that may have seemed sensible but how do you charge an electric or hybrid car., even if you charge at charging points you can’t charge when people charge at home. I know they get away with it now but when most cars are electric they’ll have to start charging or the state of the roads will get worse & worse
That depends on whether your contribution actually goes into the roads ! Plus with the mandate that all new chargers must be smart chargers, they will be recording what you use and a new electricity tariff will most likely be applied at some point !
Rather than just posting out a letter reminder. How about emailing as well, seen as most people apply online an email reminder might mean people can pay quicker. Also the fact that you have to have the letter to pay for it means that when travelling you cant actually pay and how many people don’t update their addresses so letters go to the wrong address.
Halford, yes you can pay by phone very easily, I have 3 vehicles to tax an it’s very easy, ring d.v.l.a number on letter, key in long red code number, followed by you debt/ credit card number. Hey presto, taxed. Oh an not informing the d.v.l.a of an address change is offence that can cost you 1000 pounds.
Don’t forget your photo licence expiry date, also an offence, finable clearly what isn’t these days.
About time that the car tax should be scrapped and the cost of fuel increased accordingly
At present fuel is fairly affordable as is road tax/VED what ever you want to call it both separate so its completely clear how much you are paying, put them together fuel will become a rich mans luxury, you will have no idea how much yare paying for your car to be on the road as it will all be mixed in together, excellent camouflage to rip off the motorist even more. I know what everyone says about road tax and its so unfair for the person who hardly uses there car, it will still be t he same, just because your car sits in your drive you still have fuel in it you paid VED on just as you would with our current system, what about petrol for mowers/strimmers/chain saws VED on that? And as we all know VED no longer goes towards road repairs so it matters not what size vehicle you drive, it s how much they can screw out of you in the name of the environment, saving the planet is massively expensive as everything to do with it levies a charge to us, the public!
why extra on fuel? we already pay about 87 pence per litre tax !
To solve drivers evading road tax, just put it on the price of fuel, the more you use the roads you pay more for them as you fill up more, simple’s!
A good example of a knee jerk reaction to a problem that was initiated with scant thought – what a surprise to find a threefold increase of tax dodgers who are very unlikely to be caught. As the novice police officer was taught , the absence of a tax disc in the windscreen suggests that the vehicle will be uninsured etc etc.
The fairest and simplest solution is to increase the fuel tax which would also deal with the huge numbers of foreign registered vehicles using our road networks
Great idea…but l can guarantee you that those currently evading payingvthe VED will definitely NOT get insurance…so not such a good idea. I wholeheartedly agree with paper/plastic discs behind rear veiw mirror for VED, MoT & Insurance. No excuse not to go down the same route as the Italians and some others have. It is THE only answer.
It has to go on fuel as that would be the fairest way. The more you use your vehicle the more road tax you pay and it may even encourage hybrid owners to make more effort to use their batteries more instead of just owning a hybrid for tax breaks on their income so that’s one more for the environment.
Hybrid vehicles no longer have tax breaks! only EV’s do! Also it is known as VED not road tax. Road tax was withdrawn in 1937. VED goes directly into Government coffers!
Stop splitting hairs…VED is a Tax for your vehicle to go on the road…effectively a’Road Tax’…
Seems tax and insurance becoming optional as there little penalty involved even if detected. A driver guilty of no insurance often gets fined far less than the cost of the annual insurance which they have avoided . Only real loosers are all of us who do pay insurance.as cost is added to our premiums. As for road tax – add to petrol tax, that fairer to all. Those ‘to poor to pay’ will not notice the extra cost per litre so much.
When the price of fuel goes up so does the incidences of fuel theft, but fuel theft doesn’t just happen on the forecourts, it also happens outside people’s houses, and anti theft devices don’t help against a sharp screwdriver and a plastic fuel tank which some cars are fitted with and which seems to be the trend with car makers as plastic is cheaper than metal, therefore just upping the price of fuel may not be the answer.
Here here…l agree 100%.
Stealing of fuel WILL rise dramatically if any VED is applied to fuel. I can just see all those wanting that change regretting it when their car gets drained and they cant get to work and or dont have the money to get the car fixed/repaired or claim for it off their insurance. Think carefully folks before you wish this system brought in…though l doubt youll stop it happening anyway.
Both my husband and I have been victims of fuel theft by the screwdriver method, luckily at a time when we hadn’t just filled up, but still mega inconvenient having the cars off the road at the same time, not to mention the expense of repairs, and having to get the fire service out to clean up the petrol the thieves left running down the road when they ran away on being discovered in the act. However, I do still believe that to add the tax onto the cost of fuel is the fairest way. The down side is that all goods would increase in cost as business shout about it costing them more money to put delivery vehicles on the roads. I also believe there would be a knock on benefit for the environment as it would make people think more about their individual mileage.
Putting an additional tax on road fuel is the obvious solution. For now. But what about when we are all electric and plug our vehicles into the mains supply that we also use for washing and cooking? Even if we fit a dedicated meter for car charging, it wouldn’t be difficult to by-pass the meter and connect the vehicle to the “normal” supply. The government will still need to get the revenue from somewhere.
Electric vehicles have zero ved
At the moment ! When the government start running low on fossil contributions, it will come !
If the present system were scrapped and the VED cost loaded on to fuel at the point of purchase – the obvious and most common-sense solution – the unemployment rate in Swansea would go up by 300% (approx…) ! The political cost to South Wales is a pill far too bitter for the politicians to swallow. I suspect that this is the reason that the fools in Westminster are reluctant to do the right thing.
Shut the front door. What a surprise.
I support an increment on fuel duty and the abandonment of a separate VED.
1. Costs to the motorist will align with their degree of use of a motor vehicle.
2. A second car used for pleasure on the occasional sunny day will not be too costly to run.
3. Costs also align with the inherent fuel efficiency or otherwise of their vehicle, giving a natural incentive to upgrade to newer and better technology.
4. There will be greater incentives to use public transport, thus helping the bigger picture of pollution reduction.
5. The buying and selling of cars will be made simpler, and hopefully cheaper, as there will no longer be the threat of prosecution if a car is driven back home by a buyer without the VED having been purchased; and avoiding the resentment of many at having to buy a whole month’s worth of VED for maybe just a few days before the month ends.
6. Other simplifications will prevail for the private seller of a car, such as allowing the car to be test driven without the overhead expense of VED.
There should be very few exemptions from the extra fuel duty, in particular there is no good reason why classic cars should be exempt as they are generally used only for low mileages. Exemptions must be in place for buses, emergency vehicles, agricultural and garden use (tractors, lawn-mowers, petrol chainsaws and similar).
VED is still in the dark ages with regard to payment being made for what you get. Putting VED on a vehicle at any time in the month still reverts to renewal at the first of that month for the following year (thereby loosing those days between the 1st and the original payment date)
I can understand that principle when a paper disc was issued for “that month” however surely in this computerised day it shouldn’t be a problem for VED to apply from whatever date the payment is made and then for a full 365 days.
Use the a modified version of the Aussie model, when you buy fuel, you also pay a percentage of the cost towards VED, and third party insurance (so everyone is covered) obviously those who want can pay for Fully Comp privately. This way heavy road users and drivers of inefficient cars pay more, and it’s virtually impossible to cheat.
Since every car has a registered keeper, send them a letter stating that they are liable to tax their car, 7 days to show tax or coming to scrap your car. Stop messing with the numb people who think everyone else owes them a living, I the last 4 years I’ve been in crashes with 3 uninsured and untaxed people, all in my wagon. 2 ran into the trailer and one I hit parking up. So that’s 3 less to kill or injure law abiding people.
I have 5 vehicles (3 motorcycles) all road legal, 4 are taxed all the time one is an 2009 car I have to keep taking off road and sorning, which is most inconvenient. because the tax cost is so high £570 pa. so replacing tax with fuel duty would suit me
just scrap the car tax. we are already WAY over taxed as motorists anyhow. travelling to work at times/places where no buses run, for minimum wage and getting hammered for tax, whilst Footballers working 90 mins a week earn the same as a 40hr week job would in 20 YEARS, in just 1 90 min game per WEEK? hit THEM. THEY can AFFORD it much more than we can!
So 98% of road users do pay their way, Surely that’s a good thing, I don’t think most people who aren’t paying their road tax are doing it on purpose, I think it’s probably a case of not having a thing you can look at on the vehicle itself to remind you when it’s due, I know I used to look at my tax disc every year around the time it was due just to make sure I hadn’t missed the date, I know you get a reminder through the post to log on and pay online but not all people can do that for one reason or another and are these figures also taking into account people moving house for instance or being scrapped where paperwork and notices are in the process of being sorted between the owner of the vehicle and the DVLA.
Scrap VED and increase fuel duty. A pay-as-you-drive system would be fairer. As a retired person using my vehicle in a rural area with very limited public transport and covering only 4000 miles a year, this would, of course, be financially advantageous to me but it would mean the 100,000 miles a year sales rep. would be paying his fair share of the government’s income from road use.
The AA and the RAC said that the scrapping of paper tax discs would be a total mistake, but you are talking of the high and mighty civil service, who cannot be questioned and, like Mary Poppins, are perfect in every way. The chickens have come home to roost on that decision, but they wont change their minds, they will just think up some other half baked idea and implement it without discussion or thought.
It’s a no brainer. Put the charge on fuel. The roads are too busy anyway so those who use it most will pay more than those who don’t. It’s only fair.
I think scrapping the VED and putting a levy on petrol/diesel is the answer. On the rail network the Train Operating Companies have to pay Network Rail an access charge for using the tracks, so it seems logical that road users should pay for access to the road network.
It would suit me to scrap VED and add the cost to Petrol.
I think the government should scrap the VED and put an additional fuel duty. Could they also go further and place a third party insurance cost onto fuel? This could reduce our annual insurance cost and the extra third party cost on fuel would also be dependant on how far you travel. The only people who wouldnt be covered are criminals who dont pay for fuel, but they probably dont have any insurance anyway!
GETTING RID OF THE VED AND REPLACING WITH AN INCREMENTAL ADDON TO FUEL TAX HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PRACTICAL WAY OF ENSURING BIGGEST USERS PAY MORE. PROBLEM IS THAT IT IS TOO SIMPLE FOR THE POLITICIANS TO UNDERSTAND
No reason why DVLA cannot “track” a person who ignores reminders for VED. Being a Government department it must have access to data held by other departments. They have the technology to check a persons movements.
As regards Police, they have little time to stop and check each vehicle when ?? walking the beat.
Mobile roadside checks are frequently made along A roads and Motorways by ANPR units, but obviously the majority have to pay for the minority.
Putting more money on fuel because some people aren’t paying road tax is one of the most stupid ideas!
For a lot of people it would cost more than they currently pay for Road Tax.
On top of which, the government would say,”it’s just a small amount of 1p”, to which it would go to several pence over the coming years & they would claim it is needed for admin costs or some other money’s scamming way!
Bruce ,your right mate. We already have massive tax on fuel in this country. It will be just like car tax, put up for no reason every year till fuel is 25 quid a litre an no bugger can afford it. Government officials can’t be trusted, look what happened with v.a.t , told everyone it would go back up to at least 20%. Your talking out of your bum I was told. Oh yeah?
Add more duty on fuel ! No avoiding it then…
Pay as you go!
I wrote to my M.P. about increasing excise duty about 20 years ago.Like all questions to an M.P.,the answer doesn’t really address the question
The easiest solution is to put a small extra charge on to the fuel. This would automatically stop the evasion.
Re introduce the tax disc!
Are we surprised? In some countries you also have to display your insurance certificate AND MOT (or equivalwnt
Re introduce the tax disc. This reduces the chances of overlooking when tax is due and provides confirmation that the vehicle is taxed. Simple!
Put it on the fuel Yes, the chancers will switch to not insuring their cars, but as the Police shadowing TV programmes show, the people who evade VED usually don’t have insurance Or MOTs in any case
I use a petrol lawn mower. It does not require VED, but adding a VED charge to fuel would mean VED would be paid. That’s just wrong.
But all fossil burners are polluting ! Maybe all fossil burners should pay towards climate change ?
The paper disc was always a good idea. It’s also a good way to check to see if tax is current. In addition, it serves as a reminder to myself when my tax is due.
Hardly suprising, that law breakers find it an easy scam.