End of the road for the ‘tax disc’

From October 2014 motorists will no longer have to display their road tax disc in the windscreen of their vehicles.

Even though the paper disc is to be scrapped motorists will still be paying Vehicle Excise Duty but the treasury claims that there will also be savings of £20  million for Britain’s hard-pressed motorists as a result of changes to the way car tax can be paid.

The number of windscreens checked for tax discs by officers has dropped 75 per cent in the last five years, thanks to the electronic vehicle register that is used by both traffic police and the DVLA. A police source said ‘the tax disc is no longer needed for enforcement purposes, the police use numberplate recognition equipment. If they pull you over they can immediately tap into this database and see whether the car is taxed and insured and what the driver ought to look like.’ Officials said that both the police and the Post Office have ‘indicated their support’ for the abolition of the tax disc. But it is thought that some sub-postmasters could suffer as they rely on customers renewing their car tax. The online process is already in action so drivers can renew online.

One thing which will most definitely be a plus for motorists will be the choice of paying the vehicle excise duty by monthly direct debit. It is always a bill that has had to be paid in full and on time so this will be a welcome addition.  It will also be cheaper to pay for a six month period due to a 10 per cent surcharge it can currently cost £55 for a half-year disc or £100 for a year. Under the reforms, the charge will be reduced from 10 to 5 per cent, reducing an identical six-month period to £52.50. Paying monthly will also attract a 5 per cent rather than a 10 per cent charge.

Vehicle tax was introduced in the 1888 budget and the current system of excise duty applying specifically to motor vehicles was introduced in 1920. The tax disc was introduced in 1921, with a plain design of black ink on grey paper which drivers had to cut out themselves. Colour was introduced in 1923.

A Treasury spokesman said ‘this is a visual symbol of how we are moving government into the modern age and making dealing with government more hassle free.’ So the paper tax disc will become something of the past, together with so many others, will we miss it probably not, might be worth holding on to one just for a memento.

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