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RAC and DVLA clash over tax disc policing

After 93 years, the traditional, and now iconic, paper tax disc is coming to an end. From October 1st, drivers will no longer have to display their tax on the windshield because the entire system is becoming digital. And, whilst those with personalised number plates might be happy to get rid of the dashboard clutter, it seems the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and RAC have clashed over who will police the changes.

From next month, a new electronic system will replace paper tax discs; however, not everyone is keen, and the RAC has said that up to £167m of additional tax evasion will occur due to the change. The DVLA have hit back at these claims, saying that the belief that a digital system will cause higher tax evasion is “nonsense”.

Introduced in 1921, the tax disc is no longer needed because authorities will keep track of drivers via automatic number plate recognition software and electronic copies. Existing discs can be removed from windshields come October 1st, and for those who want to spread their payments out, the new discs can be paid by Direct Debit on a monthly basis. There are changes for buying and selling too, with those purchasing a vehicle no longer being able to take advantage of any tax months remaining. Instead, they’ll have to renew the disc immediately, whilst the seller will get a refund on any full months outstanding.

In a survey of over 2,000 drivers, the RAC found that 36 per cent of people had no idea the tax disc was being scrapped, 47 per cent didn’t know when it was happening and 63 per cent of people seemed concern that the move would result in more untaxed vehicles.

RAC’s chief engineer, David Bizley, said: “We could be looking at around £167m of lost revenues to the Treasury, far exceeding the £10m that will be saved by no longer having to print tax discs and post them to vehicle owners.”

However, a spokesman from the DVLA quickly countered the claims by saying: “There is absolutely no basis to these figures and it is nonsense to suggest that getting rid of the tax disc will lead to an increase in vehicle tax evasion. We have a proven track record in making vehicle tax easy to pay but hard to avoid, with over 99% of all vehicles taxed.”

In addition, the organisation’s chief executive, Oliver Morley, said members of the public can check online to discover whether a car is taxed or not.

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