October 7, 2014 1.32 pm This story is over 86 months old

Do you understand the new tax disc rules?

New rules: The new tax disc rules for vehicles are now in force, but do you understand how it now works if you want to buy or sell a car? Michael Price explains.

As from October 1, 2014, it is no longer necessary to display a paper tax disc in your vehicle. This includes tax discs which have not yet run out: for example, if your disc expires on November 30, 2014, you can remove it now.

DVLA will still send you a reminder to tax the vehicle, but when the time comes no disc will be issued.

The downside to the scheme is that vehicle tax will no longer be transferable with the vehicle. Also, when buying a vehicle you will be responsible for taxing it before driving it away. Therefore, if you are selling a vehicle you have a duty to inform the DVLA that it is sold. They will then cancel the tax from the end of that month and send you a refund.

The person buying the vehicle must tell DVLA and pay tax on the phone or by internet and will be charged from the beginning of the month. As you will have realised, the Government gets two months’ tax paid at that time!

According to the government, the new system has the potential to save DVLA up to £7 million annually in administration costs. In my opinion, however, the real reason behind the new rules is to make sure people register the change of ownership.

For motorists the downside is the double taxation and problems which may arise if buying or selling privately.

Modern road traffic policing is mostly done by automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras. These cameras are located all around us on street lamps and buildings and automatically read every vehicle’s number plate. The system checks the numbers for tax, insurance, MOT and wanted registered keepers of vehicles. The police then either intercept the vehicle or visit the keeper later.

They also are a way of tracking a vehicle’s movement around the country.

If buying or selling privately, you may wish to consider entering into an agreement with the seller at the time of taking possession that they will not notify DVLA of the change of ownership until enough time has passed to let you drive home. This will allow you a safe journey home without being stopped for not having any tax. Once home, you can then sit down at your computer or phone and tell DVLA of the change of keeper details. If you are the seller, however, you’ll need to make sure you have the buyer’s full details before letting the vehicle go, and that you notify DVLA at the time agreed or as soon thereafter as possible. If you are the buyer, the normal rules of insurance continue to apply and you must be insured before you drive the vehicle away.

Some motoring organisations are unhappy about the new legislation. The RAC has expressed concerns that there could be a spike in drivers on the roads without tax. It said the possible scenario could mean Treasury coffers lose out on up to £167 million annually, although the DVLA dismissed the claim and said there was no reason to expect an increase in tax evasion.

There could also be an increase in the number of cloned vehicles as dishonest people try to avoid the ANPR cameras.

Drivers may also be concerned that they will forget to renew their tax without having a paper disc in the window screen to act as a reminder, and they would be right to be worried; the DVLA can fine them £80 – reduced to £40 if paid promptly – on top of the tax owed. Those who fail to pay can be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000 in court.

It is therefore imperative for motorists to notify DVLA of any change of address to ensure they receive the usual reminder and subsequent requests for payment.

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Michael Pace is Head of the Motor Law and Personal Injury Teams at Andrew & Co Solicitors in Lincoln and Newark. He joined Andrew & Co in 1998 and took over the leadership of the Personal Injury Team in 1999. He has since developed a niche practice in Defendant Motor Law building on his previous experiences in the police force and represents both individuals and companies who find themselves in court for criminal motoring offences. He is a regular speaker and lecturer for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.