Before the recent car tax changes were bought into force, there were a plethora of cars that qualified for £0 road tax (or vehicle excise duty), these were ultra-low emission vehicles like the Peugeot 107 / Citroen C1 / Toyota Aygo trio as well as numerous hybrids. All zero-emission, electric vehicles also qualified for free road tax.
Even though these are ‘free’, you still need to tax them, which seems to be an issue many owners are failing to take heed of. Money Saving Expert has obtained data that shows over £500,000 in fines were paid last year alone due to motorists simply not applying for their free road tax. From 2015 to date there have been 71,060 penalties given to drivers not taxing nil qualifying vehicles, in total that equates to a massive £1.1 million in fines.
By not applying for road tax you could be finding yourself opening a letter to a £80 fine, You’ll only have to pay half that rate if you pay within 33 days of receiving the fine, but if you’re taken to court, a maximum penalty of £1,000 could be imposed. If you’re caught on the road without tax, you may be summoned straight to court instead of facing a fine.
The vehicles this applies to are the sub 100g/km of CO2 that were first registered between 1 Mach 2001 and 31st March 2017, it’s worth checking your emissions against the Governments website to see if yours is one of them.
It also hasn’t helped that vehicle tax has moved purely into the online realm at around the same time. Many owners receive a letter citing that they have £0 road tax to pay, after the first six months or year that they own their low emission car. The majority of owners ignore it thinking they don’t need to do anything as there is nothing to pay.
With the whole tax system residing online, owners end up believing they never have to apply for road tax. But every car still needs to have tax, no matter if a cost is involved or not.
A lack of communication on the DVLA’s part is being blamed. Motorists are stating that because so many are falling foul of the fines, it’s in the interests of the DVLA to not tell drivers what they should be doing.
Regit has a free reminder service that can drop you an email when your car tax is due, something it seems many drivers are now entirely forgetting since the scrapping of the paper disc.
The DVLA have come out merely saying that all vehicles on public roads need to be licensed. Otherwise they should be declared SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) whether the car attracts a road fund licence fee or not.
Another oddity of the system is you can’t have the rolling tax option of a monthly, quarterly or annual direct debit if your car is nil tax. Each year you have to actually visit the website and go through the process of taxing your free to tax vehicle.
It seems the DVLA are aware of the common mistake thousands of motorists are making, but it suits them to ignore the lack of communication in the system as it’s to their benefit. Make sure you sign up for a tax reminder service, so you don’t get stung.