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The Legalities Behind Vehicle Tax

The Legalities Behind Vehicle Tax 



Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is the UK’s car tax system and iHYPERLINK ""t is a legal requirement that all cars on UK roads have up to date vehicle tax. This is collected and enforced by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Before October 2014 all vehicles had to display a vehicle tax paper disc in their windscreens but now police use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) in their vehicles to check cars on the road. There have been recent changes and other legal issues which affect vehicle tax.

Recent Changes

From April 1st 2017 the UK’s vehicle tax system changed, meaning drivers will have to be aware of these to ensure they are paying the legally correct amount. Every year the DVLA collects billions of pounds worth of revenue for the UK government which goes straight to the exchequer, though general taxation covers much of the costs involved for road upkeep.

Previously, cars producing less than 100g/km of CO² emissions were exempt from paying VED. Under the new rules, all new cars that aren’t electric will have to pay vehicle tax. New bands A to M have been created, so drivers will need to check which one their vehicle falls under to ensure they are paying the correct amount of tax.

The only vehicles exempt from paying are those used by disabled people, mobility scooters, any registered before January 1977, electric and steam vehicles, agricultural and farming vehicles. Otherwise it is up to the registered owner and driver of each vehicle to make sure vehicle tax is paid before they begin driving.


Driving without or with the incorrect vehicle tax will result in a fine or possibly more severe penalty. The DVLA has a database of all vehicles registered in the UK, which is checked and can pick out cars without vehicle tax. An automatic letter and £80 fine is sent to the registered owner’s address when detected, with early settlement in less than 28 days resulting in a cheaper £40 fine instead.

Avoiding the fine will result in further prosecution and a court summons, where the fine can be increased up to £1000, depending on the circumstances. While the DVLA also has the power to clamp vehicles which have not paid their tax, which require a £100 release fee or the paying of the correct tax.

If you own a vehicle but it is not being driven or kept parked on a public road, then you should apply for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). This enables you to be exempt from vehicle tax, which lasts for 12 months before needing to be reapplied for. To apply for vehicle tax you must also have suitable insurance cover and a valid MOT certificate.

Stay Safe

The easiest way to ensure any individual or business avoids any penalties is by paying the right amount of vehicle tax on time. This can be done by setting up a direct debit and checking the tax bands online.

When purchasing a used car, making vehicle checks to see if the vehicle tax has already been covered (along with other checks for MOT, stolen car and more) will also keep you safe and highlight any issues. For businesses in a post-Brexit UK, paying vehicle tax on your fleet of company cars may not be at the top of your list. However, given the legal issues, fines and time it can take to sort out, it should be a priority.

Ensure you are aware of the legalities surrounding vehicle tax to avoid any trouble and know where you stand in terms of the law.