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The End of the Tax Disc: Good News. Now, can we have an app for that?

December 5, 2013 1:34 PM
By Tim Prater

Car Tax DiscAs widely leaked overnight (what is the point in big statements if all of the headlines come out in advance?) the Chancellor announced in his Autumn Statement 2013 that car tax discs will be abolished from October 2014.

Good. In the 21st century, sticking a bit of paper in your window to prove you have tax is clearly well past it's sell-by date. Even better, the option to pay monthly by direct debit is going to be available - meaning you only pay for your road tax as you go along, rather than in annual or six-monthly "lumps" up front. That makes budgeting much easier, and avoids long delays in getting VED (your tax disc) refunded if you sell or get rid of your car.

There is a "but" though.

Currently, every person can check to see if a vehicle is obviously taxed. You look at their windscreen. So, for example, if a car is left in your road for a long time, then if the tax disc is out of date you can report it to the Council (who can then do their own check) and the vehicle removed if the tax expired.

However, without a tax disc, that "citizen's action" becomes much harder. How can you check? Worryingly, the Department for Transport (DoT) don't seem to see that as a problem. In the DoT press release on the change, they say:

"Most on-road enforcement action is now based on using Automatic Number Plate Readers. These cameras use the number plate rather than a visual inspection of the tax disc. The police also have access to DVLA records via the police national computer."

That's not good enough. How can a member of the public check if a car seemingly abandoned in their road is taxed (and therefore legal) or not? Do they really want us to ring the Police and ask?

Oddly, you already CAN check the tax status of any vehicle using a Government website. You'd have thought they may have mentioned that...

With a little tweaking - and maybe making an app people can use simply on their phones to perform a check, or at least making the page easy to use on small browsers - the tools for the active citizen are already out there.

So: my suggestion to the DoT. Go the final mile. Bring out the VED checker app by October 2014 - and tell people about it. You know it makes sense.

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