From October 2014 everyone will be able to (or already will have, if you’re reading this after October,) rip the tax disc off the windscreen and chuck it in the bin. We’re going electronic. So that’s good huh?
Well no, not really. It never ceases to amaze me how much time and effort technology enthusiasts are prepared to expend doing something just because it’s possible. It doesn’t matter if it costs more, is less efficient, less reliable or harder to operate. Or even if it’s worse than the old system. They’ll do it anyway.
You see, I’m not sure what was wrong with the old system actually.
To tax a car you need to produce a log book or reminder, an insurance certificate and where necessary, an Mot certificate. You produce the documents, you get a tax disc- no documents, no disc.
This worked pretty well on the whole. These documents are what is known as primary data, which means the system does not rely on records, data bases, computer programmes or electronic hardware, all of which are prone to errors as we know.
We’re told that the new system will reduce tax evasion. How? Because of number plate recognition cameras apparently. But we have those now, so where is the improvement?
Also, it shouldn’t be forgotten that people who don’t bother with road tax may not bother updating registration documents either, so photographing the number plate won’t help.
It will of course, be much easier to use cloned number plates when a tax disc isn’t displayed as the cameras won’t know if more than one car has the same reg. number. (You will though when you get the fines if your number is cloned.)
It will also make buying a car a bit more complicated because the tax will not be transferable, it will cease the moment the car is sold.
So far not so good then. More evasion, more potential problems and less convenience.
So what are the pluses?
Well it’ll save on paper of course, but the big plus for the DVLA is the fact that the tax is now non-transferable and refunds are given only on full months. So now, every time a car is sold, the DVLA get a bonus of up to 30 days tax. Paid for by us of course.
I almost forgot, there is another plus. At the time of writing we have still have some tax disc holders for sale. They can be used for parking permits, or as stick-on beermats and lots of other things I’m sure. Form an orderly queue now...