Motorists were promised a tax discount under the abolition of tax discs – but the way the law changed caused a delay
Hundreds of thousands of motorists have been denied discounts promised as part of the abolition of tax discs because of a quirk in the way the law was changed.
The Government will pocket up to £3.3million from a surcharge paid by drivers who renewed their vehicle tax last month. Drivers were told that under the replacement “electronic” car tax scheme, which came into force yesterday, they would be able to pay the £175 annual fee by direct debit.
However, drivers who had already renewed their tax for October missed out on the chance to pay monthly, which would have cut a surcharge from 10 per cent to 5 per cent. The consumer website money.co.uk estimated that 759,303 people were due to renew their car tax in October and paid for six months, therefore missing out on the direct debit option.
The Drivers and Vehicle Licensing Agency website crashed yesterday as drivers investigated the impact of the scrapping of the 93–year–old tradition of displaying tax discs on windscreens. People trying to get access to the system had to wait hours for it to come back online.
The DVLA said the legislation for the abolition of tax discs and the introduction of direct debit payment had to be brought in together, so it was unable to offer the direct debit option sooner. Responding to the online chaos, it said:
“We are currently experiencing high volumes of traffic to our online vehicle tax service; please keep trying. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
Anyone caught avoiding road tax can be forced to pay a £1,000 fine. The DVLA said 6,000 applications a minute were made online on Tuesday. Edmund King, president of the AA, said:
“It’s ironic in this digital age that the site goes down on the first day of the electronic system.”
The DVLA said more than 270,000 people successfully used its online service yesterday – 30,000 more than on the same day last year.
Vehicle owners will no longer have to display the vehicle excise duty (VED) disc on their screens, with the system becoming “electronic” in that VED will be renewed either online or at Post Office branches. The Government has said the abolition will eventually save the DVLA around £7 million a year.