News : Tax discs to be phased out after 93 years


The Government has announced that paper tax discs will no longer be needed from October 2014. Owners will no longer be required to display a paper tax disc in their windscreen and will instead tax cars online, with a car’s status as taxed, untaxed or SORN’d recorded in a database linked to the registration.

According to a BBC report ahead of the 2013 Autumn Statement, the changes will make it possible to pay for car tax by direct debit, making it more affordable for some car owners. Car owners will also still be able to pay for six or 12 months VED at a time.

Tax discs were first introduced in 1921 and it has been a requirement to display them ever since. This is despite recent advances in technology, which mean almost all information on a car is stored in a central database easily accessed by law enforcement. The database includes cars insurance status, whether it has a valid MoT and whether VED has been paid.

Keith Adams


  1. I am considering putting up a petition against this – having already had to deal with the people who will be doing this job and who wouldnt know customer service from a hole in the ground and, in my personal experience, are abusive, insulting and aggressive (your mileage may vary). Thats not to mention the only automated call system I have ever heard that sounds like its been recorded by a member of the Totenkopfverbande just after his wife left him, his Mercedes was stolen & he was posted to the Eastern Front.

    Points against.

    1. You have precisely no evidence that you are taxed even if you are – if the computer says you arent – you arent.
    2. If a direct debit doesnt say its for car tax, they will not accept it, and if there is a computer cock up (dont I mean when) all the purchase records will probably go the way of the dodo – which means even if you do have bank records to prove it – they wont be able to corroborate and wouldnt if they could if my experience is anything to go by.
    3. If the police happen to decide they dont like your name/face/ethnicity/sexuality/gender status/religion* (*delete as applicable) you can bet they’ll have access to this database and you wont – so whatever they want to do with that information they can – for which you will have no fallback of a physical certificate of tax (which the tax disc effectively is), and no way of proving same should you be taken to court over it.

    Points for:

    1: Not having to get off your behind, which you dont actually really have to do anyway except when you’ve just gotten a new car.

  2. If it aint broke – don’t fix it! I don’t have any problems using my local Post Office for Road Tax but I admit others will disagree. No doubt the “Online” system will not be infallible either!

  3. Some good points here. Here in sleepy East Devon we rarely have number plate recognition cameras to check to see if a car is taxed or MOTed. So unless you are clocked for speeding on a remote speed camera or are involved in an accident, no-one will have good reason to check to see if your car is taxed.

    Again, it is another service our Post Offices will cease to offer (rather like some National Savings & Investments accounts which are now direct debit only). How soon before closing Post Offices make the headlines again because they are not offering sufficient Government-derived services to make them viable, particularly in rural locations?

  4. I can see the reason on both side of this issue, but I think more than anything else, it will just be one of those long-standing traditions of British motoring heritage that I will miss.
    That said, the market for replica historic tax discs will probably rocket for the classic car movement. Personally, the moment October 2014 is over, I’ll be whipping out the modern disc and inserting a perfect ‘Dec 72’ replica, complete with a London issue stamp and period handwriting for my registration.

  5. In Sweden we had a sticker on the rear number
    plate from 1973 until 2011 that surved as a check that
    a car had passed its technical safety inspection (Bilprovningen), the
    road tax had been payed as well as the minimum insurance.
    Very practical. Every year was a new color. I kind of miss it
    with its Swedish insignia with the three crowns on it.

  6. how will older people tax cars who have no internet or even younger people who cant be bothered with computers etc?

  7. I can see the point of phasing out the use of the dic, I’m just glad that they’re keeping the concept and not claiming to put it onto fuel duty instead as I’m sure that would end up costing everyone much more anyway!
    The old idea that the tax disc was a good visual method for a bobby on the beat to check that the car has a current MOT & insurance is no longer necessary as the Police can quickly check on-line to see if this is the case, so I think it’s a sensible move to cut the departmental costs involved in administering and posting out the discs.
    What does worry me however is the inefficiency of the systems that are supposed to catch non-insured and non-MOT’d vehicles.
    We’re told that with all the (either static or Police Vehicle mounted) ANPR cameras that it’s impossible now to drive without valid insurance or MOT cover yet working in the trade, we regularly have cars brought in for MOT and find they have run out literally months ago but the owners have been driving these vehicles around undetected. To me this is a far more important thing for us all to worry about, if a vehicle doesn’t have a valid MOT certificate, then it is not insured. I hope that one of these vehicles doesn’t run into me!

  8. I liked collecting the tax disc to put in my service portfolios along with previous MOT’s.

    Why not throw a penny on the price and keep it?

  9. Personally, I have never shopped or paid for anything Online. So, paying for my road tax this way will be a first!
    You may think me strangely old fashioned but not really. I just prefer to shop in person. OnLine is not the only option. It’s becoming increasingly popular but it remains a payment option, not the only available means.
    Is the Post Office route being axed immediately from October 2014? How will we get out reminders? Can Granny take her form to the post office and get them to renew online for her?

    Thinking of the computer difficulties I’ve experienced recently (hence my unusually few visits here) I think renewal online will be a pain up the ar*e ! I’m not an old git – Again, I just PREFER the in person option.

  10. To me, my lap top at home is really just an “AROnline Machine” !! Online shopping, banking etc ain’t really for me!

  11. It’s a ploy to earn more in fines!

    Without a visible reminder of when the tax expires- more people will forget to renew in time and get a fine.

  12. Good point Darren. The Disc in your windscreen serves as a great reminder that your tax is due. In fact, I’ve recently caught sight of mine and thought “oh, I thought that was due end January, not December”. This point alone is sufficient justification for keeping it.

  13. My current road tax expires in January 2014, so I guess the next tax disc I buy may be the last? As I said in column 3 – the online/computerised system wont be infallible and then the Press will be full of stories about untaxed cars with no MOT!

  14. Nobody has mentioned the benefit of reducing the rubbish obscuring vision from within the car. Anything that does this is a GOOD THING, especially given the tree-trunk A pillars of today’s cars!

  15. At last. I’ve bought the things on line for ages – prevents me from having to enter terrible post offices staffed my surly people….

  16. My insurance runs out month before, and at present the DVLA site wont let me buy my tax on line as is says my car is UNINSURED……..This is depsite having the new paperwork already in my hand, and the first payment already out of bank…..

  17. Ian @ 18

    ” Nobody has mentioned the benefit of reducing the rubbish obscuring vision from within the car. Anything that does this is a GOOD THING, especially given the tree-trunk A pillars of today’s cars! ”

    Ian, I can’t say my licence disc has ever obscured my vision in twenty plus years of driving !! I think the real visibility issue is high dash, plunging bonnet and thick pillars you mention. Thick pillars equals strength but what is the safety benefit of a steep bonnet, high dash?

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