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Vehicle Tax Evasion – How Are The DVLA Handling It?

HGV Training Centre

If you’re a UK road user, you probably know all about vehicle tax. It’s something that everything with 4 (or 2) wheels and an engine needs to have, and is one of the ways the government funds improvements and maintenance to the roads you use every day. If you don’t tax your vehicle every year, you could end up facing some pretty hefty fines, or even losing your car for a while. But this year, the DVLA have been clamping down on vehicle tax evasion, and you need to make sure you don’t get caught in the middle.

What’s Caused The Change?

Vehicle tax evasion has always been an issue, and something that the DVLA take very seriously. But since the death of the physical tax disc (which made it very easy to instantly tell if your vehicle was taxed or not), the rate of untaxed vehicles has been something they monitor even more closely. During this they noticed a spike in untaxed vehicles across the country in 2018, which was severe enough to warrant aggressive action.

In particular, there were 11 locations across the UK where evasion rates were highest (based on enforcement actions taken), including:

  • London
  • Northern Ireland
  • Birmingham
  • Manchester
  • Glasgow
  • Sheffield
  • Cardiff
  • Nottingham
  • Bristol
  • Leicester
  • Coventry

To put it in perspective, London saw 464,000 enforcement actions on untaxed vehicles in 2018 alone, ranging from fines to clamping. Remember that all the money taken from vehicle tax is put back into local councils to fund projects, from building new car parks and fixing potholes to maintaining and improving roadways, cycle paths and pavements. All of which benefit everyone. If we look at just the numbers for London and assume that each car fell into the middle tax band of £150 a year, that’s £69,600,000 the DVLA can’t give back to London Borough Council. It’s that number that’s caused the DVLA to take action this year.

So What Are They Doing?

So what exactly does ‘taking action’ mean? For the DVLA, it means a two-pronged approach of fierce enforcement and active education.

The PR and marketing teams at the DVLA have designed a campaign to target vehicle tax evasion. It’s all centred around the phrase ‘tax it or lose it’. While enforcement agents are on the prowl all over the UK looking for untaxed vehicles, marketing teams are hitting those ‘hot spot’ areas and spreading then message. This includes multiple campaigns ranging from radio, printed publications, poster sites, websites and social media – all of which are designed to make motorists think twice if they are considering not taxing their vehicles. There is even a car driving around with them with a giant yellow clamp (seriously, it’s bigger than the car), to grab the attention of passers-by. The aim is to remind people that there are penalties for not doing it, and since taxing your vehicle is so easy now, no one has any excuse to avoid it.

What Are The Penalties For Driving Untaxed?

  • A DVLA-imposed fine of £80 for driving without road tax (which can be halved if paid within 28 days).
  • If you don’t pay this fine, it will increase to a fine of up to £1,000, or 5 times your annual road tax.
  • If you are physically caught driving without road tax, then there is a fixed penalty notice of up to £1,000 issued and payable on the spot.
  • Knowingly allowing someone to drive without road tax could mean a fine of up to £1,000 for both you and the driver, or £2,500 if the vehicle carries 8 passengers or more.
  • Driving a vehicle that’s due a higher rate of road tax without paying it could get you a penalty of £1000 or 5 times the annual road tax for the vehicle.
  • Driving without tax also means your car could be clamped or impounded, which means you will also need to pay a release fee. If your car is clamped, you need to pay your car tax within 24 hours, along with a release fee of £100 and a ‘surety deposit’ of between £160-£700, depending on the vehicle, which will be returned within 2 weeks of the tax behind paid.

If you happen to live in one of those 11 high-evasion areas, you could be in for a double-penalty. The DVLA teams are both clamping and fining in those areas, in an effort to make sure their message is heard loud and clear.

In reality, taxing a vehicle has never been easier to do. You get reminder letters well in advance of your tax running out reminding you not only that it’s due, but giving you all the information you need to get it done, and letting you know all the ways you can tax your vehicle. The easiest is their online portal, which takes less than 5 minutes to use and gives you peace of mind for yet another year. You can also use this portal to check when your tax is due if you’re not sure. Or, if you prefer the futuristic touch, you can even ask Alexa or Google when your tax runs out! All you need is your registration number. If you rely on your vehicle for work, you really can’t afford to not pay your road tax on time.

It’s never been easier to tax your vehicle – so what’s your excuse? If you’d like to know more, get in touch with the team today.

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