It seems that many people are still being caught out by change in car tax rules that saw the demise of the paper tax disc last year. There has been a large increase in the numbers being clamped by the DVLA. No, I didn’t know they did that sort of thing either. There has been an increase from around 5000 before the changes to around 8000 afterwards. Many of those caught are normal law abiding people who have no intention of evading the tax, they just haven’t grasped how the system now works.
The second you buy a second hand car, or change the registered ownership in some other way, the tax is cancelled. One couple, who recently swapped ownership of their two cars and informed the DVLA of the change, came back from a holiday to discover one of the cars had been impounded. They were forced to pay £822 to get the car back, comprising a release fee of £200, storage charges of £462 and a surety fee of £160, refundable when the car tax was paid. They were told that had they left it just a day longer the car would have been sold at auction, with no comeback.
There have also been some administrative errors while the system matures. One driver had to pay £465 to get his car back from the pound after it was towed away, even though the low-emission hybrid was not liable for road tax.
Another motorist bought a car and used the DVLA website to tax it, setting up the newly-introduced monthly direct debit payment. However, three months later she was fined £60 for not taxing the vehicle. She paid the fine, but after checking that she had made payments correctly, she called the DVLA. It confirmed she had taxed the vehicle, but that the previous owner had untaxed it, rendering her payment void. The agency refunded the fine.
In a press article one motorist whose car was clamped, said: “We thought we had taxed it, but there was a problem which we were unaware of, so the tax did not go through. The lack of disc did not alert us to the problem.” “There was no attempt to remind us with a letter or a call – the DVLA is not legally obliged – just a man in a van clamping the car. This is shady practice and reminiscent of the car parking wheel clampers a few years ago. It is a money-making scam.”
The article quotes a DVLA spokesman: “The changes have been widely publicised and we write to every vehicle keeper to remind them of the new rules before the vehicle tax expires.” “We also write to every new vehicle keeper when they buy a used vehicle to inform them that they must tax the vehicle before they use it.” “In addition, if a driver does not tax their car we will send a warning letter to remind them to tax it as they are at risk of enforcement action.”
You have been warned!