Department for Transport links tax disc abolition to a potential annual revenue loss of nearly £100 million
Felix Page Autocar writer
21 November 2019

The Department for Transport (DfT) estimates that 1.6% of vehicles on UK roads are currently untaxed, meaning a potential revenue loss of £94 million over the past year.

The proportion, accounting for roughly 634,000 vehicles, is lower than it was in 2017, when 1.8% (755,000) were estimated to be unlicensed, but higher than the 1.5% estimated in 2015.

The DfT’s 2019 survey on Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax) evasion, the results of which were published today, found that 9% of unlicensed vehicles were sold new in the last two years, while 43% are 10 or more years old.

It also revealed that 1.7% of private and light goods vehicles - which account for 89% of all UK vehicles - are untaxed, compared with just 0.8% of heavy goods vehicles and 0.5% of buses.

The evasion rate was found to be highest among motorcyclists, with 3.8% of all surveyed motorbikes recorded as untaxed. However, the DfT says “this figure should be treated with more caution than for other vehicle types,” because it's “much harder to collect data for motorcycles”.

The report also notes that a proportion of the estimated £94m revenue shortfall will have been recovered by DVLA enforcement activity and the payment of arrears by vehicle owners.

The DfT suggests the sharp rise in instances of road tax evasion since 2013 (when the overall figure was around 0.6%) is linked to the eradication of the paper tax disc in 2014 and a new law that means existing road tax now automatically ends when a vehicle changes hands.

Following the publication of the survey, a spokesman for the RAC said: “While it's good news that vehicle tax evasion has gone down, it's still significantly higher than it was before the tax disc was abolished in October 2014.

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“To put this into perspective, evasion in 2013 was around 0.6%, and in 2015, the next point at which this survey was carried out, it had risen to around 1.4%. It’s therefore hard to see that doing away with the tax disc has been good for ensuring as many vehicles as possible are taxed for use on our roads.”

The results of the DfT's next road tax evasion survey will be published in 2021.

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Comments
13

21 November 2019

So about 1 in 70 cars are on the road illegally?  Put a police trap on a round-about and you'll be confiscating a car every 5 minutes, it'll pay for itself too.

So what's stopping the police, oh yea it's easier to fine the middle-classes for going over the speed limit by 10mph.

21 November 2019

What's really stopping the police is the fact that there are 20,000 fewer of them than there were in 2010. So drop your persecution complex for a moment and look at the bigger picture.

This is government incompetence, yet again... and it's having a direct consequence on tax revenue, which is infuriating for those of us who abide by the law.

21 November 2019

Not a complex, an observation so come down off you high horse!

21 November 2019

Sure, if you go over the limit by 10mph, you get an 18 month prison sentence with a 5 year community service programme.

Unless you get hit by a community speed trap going 44 in a 40. In that case you get charged with attempted murder.

21 November 2019

Sure, if you go over the limit by 10mph, you get an 18 month prison sentence with a 5 year community service programme.

Unless you get hit by a community speed trap going 44 in a 40. In that case you get charged with attempted murder.

21 November 2019

It's a symptom of all the low-life criminals driving around with false plates - thousands of them, all immune from every single automated law enforcement camera for every single offence, now there's less budget for proper road policing. Well done dumb politicians and councils for annoying decent people and making life easier for the real criminals.

21 November 2019

So who's bright idea was it to abolish the tax disc then?

21 November 2019
Surely abolishing rfl and placing equivalent on fuel is the obvious answer as people will have to pay the tax when they buy the fuel, and EVs are free of rfl so taxing electricity for cars or trying to separate usage is unnecessary. It would also cost owners of larger less fuel efficient and higher polluting cars more so may incentivise the uptake of smaller more efficient cars.

21 November 2019
si73 wrote:

Surely abolishing rfl and placing equivalent on fuel is the obvious answer as people will have to pay the tax when they buy the fuel, and EVs are free of rfl so taxing electricity for cars or trying to separate usage is unnecessary. It would also cost owners of larger less fuel efficient and higher polluting cars more so may incentivise the uptake of smaller more efficient cars.

You are right, its SO obvious, there must be something we are missing. It wouldnt even cost anything to collect, as they do it already

21 November 2019

But it would require a small degree of competence so obviously lacking in our politicians and the departments they run.

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